U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra toured the emergency center for migrant children at the Pomona Fairplex Friday, saying he was pleased with the conditions at the facility, which could remain open indefinitely as children continue arriving alone at the Mexican border.
The intake center at the Pomona Fairplex opened in May, with capacity to house about 2,500 children. As of Friday, about 1,380 children were at the center, ranging in age from 5 to 16.
The center is one of several established by the federal government to house children who arrive unaccompanied at the U.S.-Mexico border. The children are housed at the centers until they can be placed with sponsors or reunited with relatives in the United States.
Becerra said the Department of Health and Human Services has gotten more efficient in recent months at processing the children out of the shelters.
“Because we now have had experience in trying to bring these kids in, process them and care for them, we’re able to do this more and more efficiently,” he told reporters after touring the site. “… We are far more efficient in moving the child from first encounter in the United States to disposition and discharge into the hands of a responsible, vetted adult in the U.S.”
The agency announced recently that it plans to shut down some of migrant-children shelters within the next month, including a 1,000-bed facility at the Long Beach Convention Center and another in San Diego.
There are no immediate plans to close the Pomona facility. The Fairplex’s largest signature event, the Los Angeles County Fair, is not scheduled until next May.