LA City Councilmembers Call for the Humane Treatment of Unaccompanied Minors and the Consideration of their Status as Refugees

LA City Councilmembers Call for the Humane Treatment of Unaccompanied Minors and the Consideration of their Status as Refugees

Officials announce the introduction of a City-wide resolution that denounces to repeal the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, reducing immigrant children’s access to immigration hearings

 

Los Angeles Councilmembers Gil Cedillo, Mitch O’Farrell, Nury Martinez and Curren Price announced their introduction of a city-wide resolution Thursday calling for the immediate support and humane treatment of unaccompanied immigrant minors. Standing with a coalition of Central American community organizations and local residents, the elected officials expressed their support of ensuring that all minors receive a fair immigration hearing and consideration of their status as refugees. The resolution 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.

 "When we take politics out of the equation, we are dealing with an issue that involves child refugees that are fleeing violence and abuse in their own countries,” said Councilman Gil Cedillo. “We have a humanitarian duty to protect these children and make sure they are not placed in harm's way again. The resolution we will present tomorrow will let the world know that the City of Los Angeles stands with the children."

 “As a mother and councilwoman, I believe that our responsibilities to all children extend beyond borders and politics. My heart goes out to those parents that were forced to send their children alone because keeping them meant a far worse fate. Our nation succeeds, in part, because of our compassion," said Councilwoman Nury Martinez.

 “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.

"While countries have borders, our compassion for innocent children should have no boundaries," said O'Farrell. "We have a humanitarian crisis on our hands, and when it comes to the situation with unaccompanied minors at our borders, we need the federal government to lead by example and provide immediate support for these innocent lives."

 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 these key groups Thursday 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.

 The resolution will be introduced in Council Friday and is expected to be up for vote early next week.

 

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