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Home / Neighborhood / Long Beach / Long Beach prepares to host 1,000 migrant children

Long Beach prepares to host 1,000 migrant children

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City officials are partnering with local hotels to collect books for the unaccompanied children.

Long Beach officials were continuing preparations Thursday to shelter as many as 1,000 unaccompanied migrant children from the U.S.-Mexico border at the convention center, and they’re partnering with local hotels to collect books for the children.

“Long Beach is known for being a welcoming community and the donations of new books will truly enhance the children’s stay,” Long Beach Public Library Director Glenda Williams said.

The city and the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau are asking for donations of “leisure books” for grade levels kindergarten through young adult. The books can be in English or Spanish — or both — and must be new. Textbooks are not being requested.

Starting Saturday, books can be dropped off at Long Beach Public Library locations or at the following hotels:

  • Hilton Long Beach, 701 W. Ocean Blvd.;
  • Holiday Inn Long Beach Airport, 2640 N. Lakewood Blvd.;
  • Golden Sails Hotel, 6285 Pacific Coast Highway;
  • Long Beach Airport Marriott, 4700 Airport Plaza Drive; and
  • Westin Long Beach, 333 E. Ocean Blvd.

Donations can also be made at the Terrace Theater, 300 E. Ocean Blvd.

The city previously established an online portal through its website, www.longbeach.gov, providing details of other ways residents can support the unaccompanied children, who will be housed at the convention center until they can be reunited with family members or sponsors.

The Long Beach Community Foundation has also set up a Migrant Children Support Fund for people to donate money to offer assistance or other resources to the children. The shelter operation itself is being fully funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The shelter will be similar to ones already operating in San Diego and Dallas. The Long Beach Convention Center is expected to house as many as 1,000 children aged 3 and up. The shelter is expected to operate until early August.

Children are expected to start arriving at the center in the next few days.

The Pomona Fairplex will also be used as a shelter, housing as many as 2,500 migrant children.

Federal officials say the goal is for the children to remain at the shelters for no more than 30 to 35 days. Children being housed at the Fairplex are expected to be primarily teenagers.

Bonnie Preston, acting regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said earlier this month that a majority of the unaccompanied children arriving at the border come with names and phone numbers of sponsors in the United States to show border patrol agents after turning themselves over.

However, before a child can be placed, the sponsor has to “be vetted, and it takes time,” Preston said.

In some cases, if the sponsor doesn’t seem like a safe option, the children end up staying in HHS custody in a long-term care facility that provides additional services, including county services to find a non-relative guardianship or foster placement, according to Preston.

The Long Beach Convention Center is also being used by the city as a COVID-19 vaccination site, and the shelter is not expected to impact that operation.

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