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Long Beach prepares for migrant children to arrive at Convention Center this week

Migrant children will likely begin arriving at Long Beach’s Convention Center some time this week, city officials announced Monday, April 19.

The announcement came two weeks after the City Council OK’d letting the federal government use the facility as a temporary shelter for kids found at the southern border without a parent. The shelter will house up to 1,000 kids ages 3 and up, and the site will be used specifically for siblings found at the border together.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which will run the shelter, did not immediately respond to a request for more details on the children’s arrival.

But community members, local organizations and businesses can now sign up to volunteer at the shelter, the city announced, by visiting an online portal.

“There’s been overwhelming interest from our community to welcome and support the migrant children who will be coming to our city,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “Long Beach will continue to demonstrate compassion to those in need, and our online portal will provide up-to-date information on ways community members can support these efforts.”

The best way to help, according to the portal, is by providing a tax-deductible donation to the Migrant Children Support Fund, which The Long Beach Community Foundation launched specifically to provide assistance to the Long Beach shelter.

But businesses and organizations providing services that could be useful at the site — including meals, education, mental health support, legal services and language translation — can also complete a form to demonstrate their interest in helping. Individuals interested in volunteering can also fill out a separate form.

While many details of the shelter agreement have still not been released, the City Council’s approval earlier this month will allow the site to operate for up to 120 days, with a closure date of Aug. 2 at the latest.

The decision to use the Convention Center comes as the facility has sat vacant for months due to the coronavirus pandemic and as a surge of unaccompanied minors, fleeing violence and poverty in Central America, have sought to cross the southern border. Border authorities encountered nearly 19,000 children without a parent last month, an all-time monthly high.

Long Beach’s online portal can be found at bit.ly/3tycTUG. For more information, email migrantchildren@longbeach.gov.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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Source: Orange County Register

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