LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Pomona Fairplex, home to the Los Angeles County Fair, will be used to temporarily house unaccompanied migrant children, Supervisor Hilda Solis announced Thursday.
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“Los Angeles County has a responsibility and an opportunity to care for unaccompanied minors coming to the United States,” she said in a statement. “This is not a border crisis – but, instead, it is everyone’s crisis.”READ MORE: Black Friday Safety: More 'Smash-And-Grab' Robberies Prompt Increase In Mall Security, Pleas To Be Aware While Shopping
Solis said that she was “so moved” that the property agreed to provide an emergency intake site for the minors, many of whom she said were “escaping gang violence, poverty, persecution, and challenges that no young person should have to endure – only to make the dangerous journey to the United States for a better life.”
Solis, who is the daughter of Nicaraguan and Mexican immigrants, said that she knew “without question” that L.A. County would step up after the White House called to request use of the facility.
On Friday, Solis said today the Fairplex could temporarily house up to 2,500 unaccompanied migrant children until they can be united with family members or sponsors in the U.S.
She said the children would mostly be between the ages of 12 and 17 — though younger children could also be temporarily housed at the facility — and would all have their own beds and access to medical care, counseling, education and recreation.
“It’s not a detention facility, it’s not cages, it’s not a jail,” Solis said.
Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval said, as the child of immigrants and father to a young son, he could not imagine what it would be like to be separated from his child.
“It would devastate me and my wife,” he said. “We have an obligation as compassionate human beings to do everything we can to get these children home to their loved ones.”
But the response to the announcement was mixed among residents.
“I believe in helping our fellow man,” Josh Ravega, a Pomona resident, said. “If we’re not caring about each other, what are we doing?
A woman, who lives across the street from the Fairplex and did not want to be identified, said she sympathizes with the children, but did not agree with the effort.
“We have over 500,000 homeless children in our own country that are living on the streets and are being neglected,” she said.
Solis said COVID testing and vaccinations would not be impacted by the effort, though it was not immediately known when the children would start arriving.
This is the second facility in L.A. County that will be used to temporarily house migrant children. The first, approved by the Long Beach City Council earlier this week, is expected to open as early as next week at the Long Beach Convention Center.