The first group of migrant children started to arrive Saturday evening at the Pomona Fairplex, the latest emergency intake site to temporarily house unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, officials said.
Unaccompanied minors ranging in age from 7 to 14 years old rolled into the waystation at about 6 p.m. They will stay there until they can be reunited with family or placed with sponsors, officials said.
The Fairplex — with a capacity to hold up to 2,500 children — is the second site in Los Angeles County to temporarily shelter unaccompanied minors arriving at the southern border, joining the Long Beach Convention Center.
“These children as you know have endured abuse, persecution, deep poverty, and violence and they are simply seeking refuge,” L.A. County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis said Thursday night.
Solis said it’s the community’s obligation to help these children in need.
The majority of the children have been coming from El Salvador and Guatemala, officials said.
Some southern states have blamed the current administration’s policies for the surge of unaccompanied migrant children at the U.S. Mexico border.
Louisiana Congressman Clay Higgins earlier this week blamed the current circumstances on President Joe Biden’s “suspension of wall system construction,” which he called “a major error.”
However, a spokesperson with a Washington D.C.-based advocacy group said the situation at the border is starting to improve.
Aaron Reichlin Melnick, a spokesperson for the American Immigration Counsel, said the number of minors under Border Patrol custody has dropped 80% since late March.
“As of this morning, the number of children in Border Patrol custody is below 48 hours,” Melnick said.
“The number of children in border patrol custody has dropped 80% since late march. As of this morning the number of children in border patrol custody is below 48 hours.”
He said the government is able to meet these deadlines with multiple shelters now open across the country.
However, sites like the Pomona Fairplex are only temporary. For now, they just serve as a safe place to live, learn, and wait for long term placement.
While the situation at the border is improving, border officials are still seeing hundreds of unaccompanied migrant children each day.