Yessenia Echevarria, community organizer and founder of Paso People's Action, created a #NotCampRoberts caravan and rally on May 16 in which several community members gathered at the San Miguel Mission and drove to Camp Roberts to oppose the facility's possible use as temporary housing for unaccompanied migrant children from the U.S./Mexico border.
"There's a lot of mystery, and it's unclear what's going to happen with the children," Echevarria said.
- Image Courtesy Of Paso People's Action
- MORE TRANSPARENCY Local activist group Paso People's Action raises awareness about the potential for unaccompanied migrant children to be temporarily housed at Camp Roberts.
She said the group is firmly against detained children and the mistreatment of children in these facilities. Echevarria referred to recent reports of continued poor conditions at a Customs and Border Protection temporary overflow facility in Donna, Texas.
"I understand [the impact on facilities] is why the children are moved around. But the more you move them around, the more it creates trauma for them. Children need stability. They have already been through so much trauma that bringing them onto a military base is not adequate," she said.
The group called on local leaders and legislators to be more transparent about this process and what this facility would potentially provide for the children. On May 7, Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin sent out a press release stating that in a teleconference meeting with federal officials he was told as many as 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children could be processed at Camp Roberts.
"I expressed concerns about the impacts on local traffic, medical services, educational services, and housing. I was told that, if children were transported to Camp Roberts, they would not arrive all at one time, but in groups of a few hundred. I was also reassured medical and educational services would be handled on-base and would not impact local agencies," Martin said in the press release.
The mayor said he also expressed concerns about the needs of staff coming from out of the area and informed officials about the already tight housing market and the city's reliance on local hotels for the tourism trade.
New Times reached out to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for comment. The agency said it "will notify state and local officials well in advance of opening any temporary site. We have no other information to share at this time."
Camp Roberts is one of several facilities in California being considered as temporary housing for migrant children. The Long Beach Convention Center began housing unaccompanied migrant children on April 22.
According to an HHS press release, children who stay at the convention center, temporarily called the Long Beach Emergency Intake Site, receive a medical check and are provided needed clothing, toiletries, food and snacks, as well as a safe place to rest. The site is slated to provide shelter for girls 17 and younger and boys 12 and younger.
The site has a 1,000 bed capacity, including medical isolation, and will temporarily house children until Aug. 1.
After an outpouring of community support, the Long Beach Community Foundation created the Migrant Children Support Fund to accept monetary donations meant to provide grants to organizations that will provide educational and play time for the children during their stay and gift cards to assist the children as they are reunited with their families. Δ