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As you may know, Long Beach was recently asked to assist the Biden Administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with their work to temporarily house and quickly reconnect unaccompanied minors who have been arriving at our southern border. I am proud to report that last night, our Long Beach City Council voted to unanimously approve this partnership.
Long Beach has a long history of welcoming and helping immigrants and refugees. From our Cambodian community to the work done by our churches and faith organizations, we have led with compassion and kindness. As an immigrant, I know how important it is to support all people, especially children -- and I am proud to see our city step up to this challenge.
We have been overwhelmed with support and interest from our community to volunteer and help these children. Information on how you can help will be emailed to you in the coming days.
Our main priority is to welcome these children, make sure they are supported and well taken care of, and do all we can to assist the federal government in reuniting these kids with their family or a sponsor quickly. The reunification center at the Convention Center is temporary and will go through August 2nd.
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Here's a list of frequently asked questions and answers:
Who will be in charge of running the site?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS) will be in charge of running the site at the Convention Center.
Who will be receiving services and shelter inside the Convention Center?
The facility will house youth (unaccompanied minors) who have arrived at our southern border. The children are under the care of HHS. The federal government is creating a reunification plan for each of these children, so they can quickly be reunited with their family or a sponsor. The Convention Center will have space for the children to recreate, learn and receive medical attention if needed.
What is the cost to the City to support this program?
There will be no cost to the city. All expenses are paid by the federal government.
Will there be impacts to the Convention Center and related businesses?
The contract with HHS will end August 1, 2021, after which, conventions can resume in the space. Since the start of the pandemic the center has not been hosting events, and the city looks forward to conventions and events resuming in late-summer/early-fall. The federal government will leave the Convention Center in the same or better condition than when they began using it.
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Will there be any impact on the COVID-19 vaccination operation at the center?
No. The vaccination clinic at the center will remain fully operational, both outside the center in the parking lot and at the Terrace Theater.
How can I volunteer and/or help?
More information on this will be released in the coming days, but the best way for individuals and organizations to help will be to donate. Soon the City will be setting up an online donation portal through the Long Beach Community Foundation. Donated resources will be used to provide the children with support and assistance. Those interested in volunteering will be able to register through an online portal as well. All volunteers will have to undergo a background check for the children's safety.
These resources will all be made available at longbeach.gov soon.
I am proud of our city for stepping up to support the federal government's efforts. Now let's get to work.
Mayor Robert Garcia
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