Community Statement and Demands in Response to Long Beach’s Temporary Facility for Unaccompanied Migrant Children
On the evening of April 6th, the Long Beach City Council voted to contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and allow the opening of a facility for unaccompanied immigrant children at the Long Beach Convention Center.
The undersigned organizations do not support the expansion of detention facilities, the incarceration of children, and the continued criminalization of immigrants.
We must remember that the Biden administration and those who have preceded them have failed to address the root causes of children arriving unaccompanied. Among these causes is the Biden administration’s continued implementation of the Trump-era Title 42 policy, which allows border officials to immediately expel migrant families and adults without any chance to seek asylum or other relief. This is a continuation of imperialist policies that drive people away from their country of origin and treat them inhumanly once they arrive. Continuing to expel adults and families while accepting unaccompanied minors forces many migrant families to make an impossible decision when seeking safety in the United States.
We must also acknowledge the intersectionality that exists in this issue, that immigration is the overarching issue, and that Black immigrants and Afro-Latino immigrants face additional barriers of anti-Blackness in the navigation of these systems and once they arrive in this country. We also must acknowledge the current increase of violence against our API community members. Additional barriers exist along class lines. All of this stems from white supremacy as a root cause. We stand firmly against this in all of its forms.
As the City of Long Beach enters into the contract, we demand the following from local and federal elected officials:
We demand transparency. The Long Beach community should know the terms, conditions, and expiration dates of the contracts made between the City of Long Beach and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We should also know the names of the agencies (non-profit, public, and private) who will be responsible for providing resources and services to the children.
We demand that this facility be temporary and be closed within 90 days. These types of facilities are a band-aid solution to a bigger problem. We cannot allow for this facility to house children indefinitely and to continue the pattern of family separation and trauma.
We demand all children to be reunited with their families in an expeditious manner. All the children and youth must be reunited in a timely manner with their families or sponsors in the U.S. The longer a child is kept away from loved ones, their mental and physical health is gravely impacted. Pia Rebello Britto, the chief of early childhood development for UNICEF, said children without a responsive caregiver rarely have anyone to comfort them. These children lose out on stimulating activities to promote how they think and learn, their health and happiness. Out of fear and anxiety, their stress hormone cortisol surges, obstructs new neural connections and breaks down old ones, “causing long-term psychological and physical damage. It’s incredibly hard to bring a child back from that,” Britto said. “There are no second chances.”
We demand that this facility does not increase ICE or police presence in our communities.
We demand that this facility ensure the safety of all unaccompanied immigrant children. We must ensure that children are cared for, that COVID protocols are strictly adhered to, and that safeguards against abuse, exploitation, and trafficking are created with the consultation of experts and strictly followed by personnel.
We demand that our elected city leaders act in a manner consistent with that of a declared sanctuary city and unapologetically condemn the U.S. policies that have led to the arrival of unaccompanied minors at our nation’s border.
In alignment with national partners and allies, we demand the following from local and federal elected officials:
End the practice of holding children in large scale influx facilities, including military bases.
Rescind the Title 42 border closure and fully restore access to asylum at our borders, including at ports of entry and ensuring unaccompanied children have immediate and consistent access to legal counsel, child advocates and interpretation services.
In situations where children arrive without a parent or legal guardian, establish a process with the Department of Health and Human Services at the border to more quickly identify and vet family or sponsors to whom children can be released without the use of influx facilities.
In cases where a sponsor cannot be quickly identified within 72 hours, prioritize small scale, non-restrictive settings for unaccompanied children in facilities licensed for childcare and run by trusted community based non profits.
These types of facilities should not be seen as a model to be replicated by other cities because they are being used to make detention centers more palatable. Welcoming asylum seekers and immigrants should mean removing anti-immigrant policies that have exacerbated an already unjust immigration system and prevented family reunification for millions of immigrants in this country. Welcoming asylum seekers, refugees, and immigrants should also mean addressing the political, social, and economic conditions that created and exacerbated these crises in the first place, imperialist policies are undeniably the root cause of these issues.
The undersigned organizations will continue to advocate for the release of all immigrants under the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. We do not support these centers becoming long term or the new norm, family reunification must be prioritized. The undersigned Long Beach based organizations will work to connect families and the children who stay in Long Beach to the Long Beach Justice Fund and ensure they have access to free legal representation.
We will continue to advocate for the abolition of detention centers as a part of the larger carceral system that harms all of us. We will continue to fight for the reunification of all immigrant families.
American Indian Movement So Cal
Anakbayan Long Beach
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles
Asians 4 Black Lives
Bend The Arc: Jewish Action, Bay Area
Bend The Arc: Jewish Action, Southern California
Black Alliance for Just Immigration
Black Lives Matter Long Beach
California Alliance for Youth and Community Justice
California Coalition for Women Prisoners
California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice
California Immigrant Policy Center
California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance
Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants
Central American Resource Center of California
Child Leader Project
Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice
Comunidades Unidas en una Voz
Detention Watch Network
East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice
Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement
Freedom for Immigrants
Filipino Migrant Center
GABRIELA South Bay
Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice
Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity
Immigrant Legal Resource Center
Khmer Girls in Action
Koreatown Popular Assembly
Law Students for Immigrant Justice at UCLA
Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community
Long Beach Forward
Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition
Long Beach Residents Empowered
Long Beach Sacred Resistance
Long Beach Southeast Asian Anti-Deportation Collective
Long Beach Tenants Union
Me Too Survivors’ March International
Mujeres Unidas y Activas
National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala
Occupy ICE LA
Orange County Equality Coalition
Orange County Justice Fund
Orange County Rapid Response Network
Puente Latino Association
Resilience Orange County
Santa Barbara County Immigrant Legal Defense Center