The convention center, which has sat empty for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be home to about 1,000 migrant children, ranging in ages from three to 17 years old.
The center’s massive structure will have everything the children need including beds, food, clothing, and the existing meeting rooms at the facility will serve as classrooms.
A delegation of elected officials came to the convention center Thursday to tour the facility’s set-up.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia is an immigrant who came to the U.S. at a very young age. He talked about how personal it was for him to walk through the shelter, remembering what it was like when he arrived in America.
“You know when I came to the United States I was 5 years old and under very different circumstances,” Mayor Garcia explained. “But still poor and still without a lot of support here within the United States. And, so I feel for me this is very personal that each child is welcomed. And, I’m very grateful that there were welcoming Americans and welcoming people when I arrived with my family that showed us kindness and love. And, eventually guided us through a very complex process to become U.S. citizens. I’m also very grateful that I was given the opportunity to become a U.S. citizen. And I think it is.. it breaks my heart that we have a system today where children cannot receive the same kind of opportunity that I received when I went through the immigration system.”
The Department of Health and Human Services is in charge of setting up and providing resources at the facility.