BELL ( — The Salvation Army in Bell made a proposal Wednesday that won cheers and jeers.

At a Bell City Council meeting, the organization proposed housing and providing shelter for 136 undocumented children.

The meeting drew opponents and proponents. KCAL9’s Juan Fernandez said the meeting was packed and tempers flared.

Those opposed worried that the city could not afford the expenditure.

“These parents should have the responsibility of protecting their children,” said Sandy Orozco.

Those in favor said Bell should do its part to help refugee children during a time of humanitarian crisis.

“This country, when there’s wars, ” said Gerry Mayagoitia, “ask other countries to help the refugees. Accept them, let them in.  But when we have a crisis, at our border, we turn them away.”

“Compassion and empathy are free,” said Nora Saenz. “That’s something we should have an abundance of.”

The shelter’s proposed location is at the Salvation Army, 5600 Rickenbacker Road, in Bell.

Officials with the Salvation Army said the 40s era building could operate as a temporary housing facility for as much as three years.

The maximum stay for children would be about 30 days.

“If we can meet someone’s need, that’s what we’re here for,” said a Salvation Army member.

The group said they would only operate the facility with federal funding and the city’s blessing.

It would take about a year to get the building ready for residents, Fernandez reported.

“Right now, it’s just an empty shell,” he said.


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