Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Tuesday the city has begun talks with federal agents to help shelter undocumented immigrant children detained after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
At a forum hosted by Politico Magazine, the mayor said that the Department of Health and Human services had contacted the city, but did not give much detail about what sheltering the children would entail or when they would arrive, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Before you get partisan, before you tell me where you are on immigration — these are children,” Garcetti said.
“As a father, who are we as Americans if we don’t step forward first and say, these kids who are isolated, alone … let’s get them someplace safe and secure,” he said.
The announcement comes as the federal government struggles to deal with an unprecedented number of unaccompanied children and families from Central America arriving at the southwest border. Border agents have apprehended more than 57,000 minors traveling alone and 55,420 family units since October, mostly in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.
In June, the Department of Health and Human Services started housing unaccompanied minors in converted facilities on military bases in Texas, Oklahoma, and Ventura, California. The department has also set up shelters in communities across the U.S.
Last month, attempts to transport Central American immigrant families to processing facilities in Murrieta — a small city southeast of Los Angeles — resulted in contentious protests in which one protester spat on a popular Mexican-American singer.
The buses carrying the immigrants were turned back and plans to continue flying immigrants to Border Patrol stations near San Diego were later scrapped.