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The #ProtectionNotDetention campaign is a grassroots effort of local, regional, and statewide community and faith-based organization advocating for transparency, oversight, and accountability with the Federal Government's migrant facility at the Long Beach Convention Center. 

For a PDF version of our demands, click HERE

Immigrant Rights Group Celebrates Family Reunification, Cautions Against Using Child Detention in Long Beach as a ‘Model’

 

Large-scale facilities for children across the country have jail-like settings, incapable of providing effective care, report finds.

 

LONG BEACH, Ca. - The Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition (LBIRC) and community advocates from the #ProtectionNotDetention Coalition are celebrating the news that, after months of community-led advocacy and resistance, the Department of Human and Health Services will no longer detain unaccompanied minors at the Long Beach Convention Center after all the children have left the facility ahead of the August 2nd contract deadline.  

 

We call on Long Beach City leaders to be clear about emergency intake sites: these types of detention facilities should not be seen as a model to be replicated, because detention centers for children can never be palatable. During a recent visit with the disability rights group, Disability Rights California, direct interviews with children detained in the Long Beach facility revealed complaints about the quality of food, education, and lack of access to mental and dental services. The visit revealed a lack of case management. Most children also did not have a clear idea of the status of their cases and mentioned that their caseworkers were being switched every two days. 

 

As a result of this recent visit, and in response to the closure of this facility in our community, we recommend the following steps for elected leaders to secure the safety of child migrants everywhere:

 

  • Ensuring unaccompanied minors have immediate access to legal counsel, trauma-informed child advocates and interpretation services

  • Emergency intake sites must be phased out as soon as possible and should not be expanded

  • Ensure a more robust system of oversight for facilities that house immigrant children and adults

  • Ensure systems are in place to identify and provide services to people with disabilities. 

 

Additionally, as of today, not all children have been reunited with their families or sponsors. There are approximately 150 children who were transferred to state-licensed facilities in the Office of Refugee Resettlements’ care provider network.

 

“We are relieved that there are not any more children at the Long Beach Emergency Intake Site, but we are still really concerned about what the future holds for these children, especially those 150 children who were transferred to state-licensed facilities. None of the children released from this facility are guaranteed any connection to free legal representation or vital social services that are key to their transition and well-being. We are also concerned about the federal government's lack of proactive planning so that these sites do not ever become a solution. We can’t continue to label migration a crisis and never be prepared to welcome families with dignity. We need a better way of welcoming children and families without placing them in detention.” 

-Gaby Hernandez, LBIRC Executive Director

 

Welcoming asylum seekers and immigrants should mean removing anti-immigrant policies, like section 265 of the Title 42 public health code, 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 #ProtectionNotDetention Coalition expresses its deepest sympathy to the children seeking care, compassion, and relief from economic and natural disaster at the southern border. As such, we have consistently advocated against the use of any type of large-scale detention for holding children seeking refuge. We condemn the use of any facility that deprives an individual of the freedom of movement and contributes to the U.S.’s damning legacy of family separation. 

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