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Advocates Say San Diego County Leaders Neglecting Migrant Children

Advocates with Immigration Justice League stand outside of the San Diego Coun...

Photo by Susan Murphy

Above: Advocates with Immigration Justice League stand outside of the San Diego County Administration building to demand County Supervisors take action to help migrant children, Jan. 7, 2019.

A group of migrant advocates wants San Diego County leaders held accountable for asylum-seeking children who suffer abuse during immigration detention.

“They’re being held in conditions that really constitute abuse,” said Rev. Beth Johnson, who stood with fellow Immigration Justice League members outside of the San Diego County Administration Building on Tuesday morning.

“The Board of Supervisors is responsible for allowing this humanitarian crisis to continue unchecked,” Johnson said.

Migrant children are scantily dressed and not given blankets in air-conditioned rooms during immigration detention, which can last for several days, Johnson said. She said meals lack nutrition, leaving children vulnerable to illnesses.

“This is holding the county accountable in their role as being caregivers, caretakers for the children in San Diego County,” she said.

The league is demanding county supervisors declare a state of emergency. In addition, the group is planning to file child abuse charges against Chair Supervisor Kristin Gaspar and the 2018 Board of Supervisors.

Johnson said the supervisors’ decision last spring to support President Trump’s lawsuit against California’s Family Values Act and sanctuary laws put supervisors in a position to turn a blind eye.

Children’s lives are at risk, said league member Sue Alderson.

“One woman was horrified,” Alderson said. “She was in the ICE room for five days, her kid is sick.”

Alderson said the health and safety of migrant children fall solely in the hands of volunteers, like herself. She helps migrant families with transportation plans after their release from detention.

“We help them get their tickets and we explain how they have to transfer — change planes, change buses — and make sure they have a safe passage, as safe as we can make it,” Alderson said.

The board of supervisors is scheduled on Tuesday to discuss short and long-term solutions for the migrant crisis.

A group of migrant advocates wants San Diego County leaders held accountable for asylum-seeking children who suffer abuse during immigration detention.

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