Bell City Council supports plan to shelter immigrant children

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The Bell City Council voted unanimously to back the Salvation Army's plan to create a shelter for immigrant children. (KABC)

The Bell City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a letter of recommendation for the Salvation Army to move ahead with its federal application to temporarily house immigrant children.

Residents packed the meeting to voice their opinion on the issue. Most in the largely Latino audience supported the Salvation Army's proposal to convert one of its warehouses in Bell into a temporary shelter for nearly 150 children waiting to be deported.

"It's not an illegal issue, and it's not a legal issue. It's a humanitarian issue," said Nora Saenz, who supported the plan.

Others say a shelter would only make the immigration issue worse.

"A country without borders is no country at all. We need to protect our country against all the influx of immigrants coming across illegally," said Carmen Vega, who opposed the plan.

The Salvation Army is planning to use federal funds to pay for renovations and bring their building up to date. But the group said it wanted the city's support before moving ahead.

"It's not political for us. We see a need. Our mission has always been to find ways to meet needs without discrimination of folks," said Capt. Grady Brown with the Salvation Army.

Children from 6-to-18 years old will rotate in for about 30 days at a time before being deported.

"It's not our idea. There's no city funds being expended on this. It's a matter of education, but the majority overwhelmingly, I think, we have support," Bell Mayor Nestor Enrique Valencia said.

It will take at least a year for the shelter to open.

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politicsimmigrationsalvation armyBell
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