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Los Angeles Unified Board Condemns Plans For Youth Migrant Detention Center in Arleta (01-14-20)

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Megan VandenBos, 818-792-0679                                     January 14, 2020

LOS ANGELES (January 14, 2020) – Today, the Board of Education expressed its strong opposition to a federal plan to establish a for-profit youth migrant detention center in Arleta. Board Member Kelly Gonez, who represents the Arleta neighborhood, authored the resolution that calls for the federal government to abandon its efforts to build such a detention center.

“A youth migrant detention center has absolutely no place in the East San Fernando Valley or anywhere in Los Angeles Unified,” Board Member Gonez said. “It is antithetical to our community’s values and our mission to create safe supportive spaces for young people. We are calling on the Los Angeles City Council to do everything in its power to stop the detention center from opening.”

Recent reports show that VisionQuest, the for-profit company awarded $25 million by the federal government to house unoccupied minors across several states, has a history of mistreatment towards youth. In one example, Philadelphia officials reportedly ended a contract with VisionQuest in 2017 after it was revealed that staff members had injured children in their care.

“The Trump administration continues to show a complete disregard for the rights and the dignity of immigrants,” Board Member Gonez continued. “We will not stand by while VisionQuest reaps millions of dollars off the backs of our most vulnerable immigrants – our children.”

“Separating families is unconscionable, causing irreparable harm to children,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said. “Los Angeles Unified will do all we can to protect children and their families as part of our effort to provide a great education to all students.”

The measure was co-sponsored by Board Vice President Jackie Goldberg and Board Member Nick Melvoin.

“It is disgraceful that the federal government would propose detaining young, unaccompanied migrants in for-profit detention centers, run by a company that has a trouble history of mistreating youngsters,” Board Vice President Goldberg said. “We should protect children, instead of treating them like criminals and separating families.”

“We will not watch from the sidelines as this administration’s hatred toward immigrant populations threatens to materialize in our own backyard,” Board Member Nick Melvoin said. “We have a responsibility as a district to protect our children and families from the trauma and injustice of these immigration policies’ effect on our own communities.”

“Separating families has no place in Los Angeles Unified and in our communities,” Board President Dr. Richard Vladovic said. “I have said it for years and I say it now: We are here for our parents, and we want you to be safe. We celebrate all of our differences and we are not in the business of setting boundaries, no matter where you come from.”

“I have dedicated my entire life and career to educating and protecting children,” Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III said. “I will not support any organization engaging in the practice of detaining migrant children operating within communities served by Los Angeles Unified.”

“We stand with our immigrant students and families,” Board Member Mónica García said. “This detention facility proposal is an attack on our community. We urge our city leaders to reject this proposal.”

As part of the resolution, Superintendent Beutner will share the Board’s opposition to the detention center with the Los Angeles City Council and Planning and Zoning Department.

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