Inland House Democrats ‘gravely concerned’ about proposed shelter for undocumented immigrant children

August 19, 2019
In The News

Building a shelter in the Inland Empire to house up to 430 unaccompanied minors who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border doesn’t make sense and raises “serious concerns,” four House Democrats who represent the region wrote in a letter Monday, Aug. 19.


The two-page letter addressed to the head of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement comes as the office seeks to lease space for a shelter for “Unaccompanied Alien Children.” Officials are searching an area encompassing much of western Riverside County and San Bernardino County.


Signed by Reps. Pete Aguilar, D-Redlands; Mark Takano, D-Riverside; Norma Torres, D-Pomona, and Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, the letter rebukes the Trump administration’s treatment of undocumented immigrant children.


“Time after time, the Trump Administration has subjected immigrant children to prolonged detention in horrible conditions, and we have serious concerns about any plans that would allow these abuses to happen in our community,” the letter read.


Officials with the federal Department of Health and Human Services have said the shelter, which would have bedrooms, bathrooms, classroom space, a medical exam area, and recreation space, is needed to reduce the need for temporary shelters.



But Congress’ $2.88 billion appropriation to help undocumented immigrant minors calls for placing children in small group homes and “transitional foster care settings,” not large-scale shelters like the one sought for the Inland Empire, reads the letter, which criticizes the refugee office for not informing local lawmakers or the community before seeking shelter space.


“Transitional foster care is better suited to provide individualized attention to children than a large-scale shelter,” the letter reads. “That is why we are gravely concerned about the proposed shelter construction in the Inland Empire, where there are many service providers and community-based care options like family members and foster parents that are more suitable settings for these children.”


Documents posted online call for the shelter to be ready for occupancy in December 2020.