Pomona Fairplex will welcome roughly 2,500 children seeking asylum in US within days

Many children seeking asylum have been held in crowded Border Patrol facilities beyond the 72-hour legal limit. As part of federal government's efforts to reduce that time and overcrowding, it has partnered with municipalities to open emergency Health and Human Services shelters.

The Pomona Fairplex is now one of three facilities in Southern California opening its doors to help.

"I can say I speak for the rest of the board that we are wholeheartedly behind this venture to help these children while we can," said L.A. County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis.

"These children are undertaking a dangerous and traumatic journey, all to get a chance at a new life. And that dream of a new life will start right here at Pomona Fairplex, where they will be welcomed," she said.

Solis stressed it will be a temporary emergency intake center. Most of the approximately 2,500 children expected to arrive in the next few days are between the ages of 12 and 17.

Officials say the children should not remain there more than 35 days or so, adding that most of them do have contact information of relatives in different parts of the country.

"But these people have to be vetted and it takes time," said HHS Regional Director Bonnie Preston.

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During that time, the children will receive health and educational services.

"Our Department of Mental Health provides trauma-informed care in the language that they are also serving these children. So cultural competency and being able to have staff appropriately dealing with these children is of utmost importance," Solis said.

Preston said the children will be tested for COVID-19 before being transported to emergency facilities land during their stay.

"We have an obligation as compassionate human beings to do everything we can to get these children home to their loved ones," said Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval.

Throughout the pandemic, the Pomona Fairplex has met many needs, including COVID-19 testing and vaccination. Fairplex leaders say the current services being offered will stay in effect.

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