(Sacramento) – Legislation that would require oversight and mandates of children’s immigration detention facilities located in California will be introduced by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). At least three facilities exist in California. Nationally, 4,000 children have been taken from their families and the federal government has lost track of an additional 6,000 or more children. This legislation will assert operational oversight and mandates ensuring children’s mental, emotional and physical health and safety are protected and that they are reunited with their families while supporting the end of the separation practice.
“We are only given one childhood,” said Garcia. “California must demand standards of decency for children and families where the Trump Administration has beyond failed. None of us want to fathom the emotional, life-long trauma we know this practice has caused. California must intervene on behalf of children’s rights.”
The majority of Californian’s believe that children should not be separated from their families as seen with the current Trump Administration enforcement policies. While efforts to cease the separation practice continue to be championed, we must prioritize the 4,000 children currently detained without any emotional trauma services, let alone a mother or father to comfort them.
The bill would leverage existing state licensing authority and encourage other states to join California’s efforts to create similar immigration detention facility standards for children. Data collection standards will be set, mental health counseling will be required and quarterly facility inspections would be scheduled. California would further work to reunite children with their families and identify legal services to assist families with the immigration process. The legislation would apply to both children who have already been or will be separated and unaccompanied minors.
“Irrespective of the heartless, inhumane policy being executed by the Trump Administration at the emotional peril of innocent children we must ensure kids who have been separated are getting the services and resources they need to meet their mental, emotional and physical needs,” said Assemblywoman Garcia. “Beyond those basic responsibilities as humans, every effort needs to be made to reunite these kids with their parents and have this practice abolished.”
The three known facilities licensed in California include Casa San Diego, Casa Lemon Grove and Casa El Cajon operated by Southwest Key Enterprises. Ten to 30 percent of children they currently house have been stripped from their parents including 65 boys in San Diego and 45 girls from Lemon Grove/El Cajon.
The 58th Assembly District includes the cities of Montebello, Pico Rivera, Commerce, Bell Gardens, Downey