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Napolitano Visits Unaccompanied Immigrant Children at LA County Facility

July 21, 2018
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, DC) Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32) visited an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)-funded facility in Los Angeles County, which houses unaccompanied immigrant children who have been separated from their parents. Napolitano was joined by fellow Southern California Democrats, Reps. Judy Chu (CA-27), Mark Takano (CA-41), and Raul Ruiz (CA-36).

“I thank my colleagues for joining me on today’s important oversight visit,” Napolitano said. “We came to ensure that all children are receiving the critical services, including mental health evaluations and trauma-informed care, mandated to them in accordance with California’s child welfare law. We are pleased to report that the services being administered go above and beyond our expectations. A mental health clinician, nurse, and doctor are all on site to oversee the facility. Children are able to speak to their parents or other loved ones three times per week and are treated more like members of a community than guests.”

Napolitano and her colleagues noted how impressive and very well maintained the LA County facility they toured today was, yet lamented the disparity that exists between ORR-funded facilities—which provide housing, nutrition, physical and mental healthcare, educational services, and recreational activities—and immigrant detention centers in the U.S.

“The fact remains that very few children are receiving this level of care and treatment,” Napolitano continued. “Immigrant youth detained near the southern border as a result of this administration’s cruel policy of separating families have been subject to harsh living conditions, causing additional trauma. We do not yet know the long-term impact of these traumatic separations, but it is our obligation to mitigate harm already inflicted and ensure it never happens again.”

The crisis of the Trump administration’s own making is far from resolved. While it completed all eligible reunifications of children up to age 5 by July 12, it now has less than one week to meet the court-ordered July 26 deadline for reuniting 5 to 17 year-olds.

“The administration is being more restrictive in releasing children to parental custody, using a more thorough vetting process,” Napolitano concluded. “This is good for the protection of the children but could be used as an excuse to keep them longer, further delaying the reunification process. We will continue to demand full accountability of the administration, conduct additional oversight visitations of facilities, call for the reinstatement of the family case management program, and advocate for other humane alternatives to family detention.”


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