LA City Council Calls for the Humane Treatment of Unaccompanied Minors and the Consideration of their Status as Refugees
The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a resolution this week member calling for the immediate support and humane treatment of unaccompanied immigrant minors. Standing with a coalition of Central American community organizations and local residents, Councilman Curren Price joined with his colleagues - Councilmembers Gil Cedillo, Mitch O’Farrell and Nury Martinez - in introducing a city-wide resolutionn that expressed their support for all minors receiving a fair immigration hearing and being considered for refugee status. The resolution also officially places the City’s position on its Federal Legislative Agenda and denounces any efforts to repeal or reverse the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act., which was created to ensure the safety and legal protection of unaccompanied children.
“As an elected official sometimes you need to use your voice to call for what’s right and just. These children have fled terrible conditions at home, in search of a better life as so many other Americans have done before them. Today, we want them to know that the City of Los Angeles is a safe place where they will be treated with compassion” said Councilman Curren Price, who represents the Ninth Council District, spanning the Central portion of South Los Angeles.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees interviewed hundreds of unaccompanied minors and found that extreme poverty, unemployment, trauma and the lack of state protection from gangs pushed them to flee their home countries. The organization also found that some two-thirds of the incoming children would qualify for international protections as a result of the violence and abuse they were subjected to in their home countries. Many of these children are in search of nationalized relatives, many of whom live in the greater Los Angeles region, which currently has some of the highest concentrations of Salvadoran, Honduran and Guatemalan expatriates in the country.
A network of culturally competent community organizations and service providers from the Los Angeles area have been devoting their expertise and resources to working with the unaccompanied minors and their families in recent weeks. The Councilmembers were joined by community representatives from key groups at a press conference earlier this month and expressed their desire to find ways to support their efforts in providing critical care and services to incoming children.
“The principles of social justice recognize that health care, education and the respect for legal rights are basic human rights for children, regardless of their legal status, especially when they are escaping violence and hunger.” said Carlos Vaquerano, Executive Director of SALEF and President of Clinica Romero’s Board of Directors.