LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has convened with nonprofit groups to shelter undocumented immigrant children in L.A. while they await court hearings on whether they can remain in the United States.
KCAL9's Bobby Kaple reports Garcetti said at a forum Tuesday the Department of Health and Human Services reached out to him about the possibility as federal authorities grapple with where to place undocumented children, fueling an ongoing debate about the nation's immigration policies, which have led to rallies in Murrieta and across the Southland this month.
"Before you get partisan, before you tell me where you are on immigration, these are children. As a father, who are we as Americans if we do not step forward first?" Garcetti asked, noting, "I see this as not just a moral issue but as a practical one."
Homeless activist Ted Hayes, who has lived in L.A. for three decades, opposes the idea, insisting there are American kids on city streets who need help first.
"It's kind of a slap in the face to U.S. citizens," Hayes said. "It's embarrassing. It's hurtful. Because it's like a father saying that he loves children outside of the family more than he loves his own."
"We feel for them," Hayes continued. "We feel their pain. But we are feeling pain of our own children first."
Garcetti's office says he has convened with a group of nonprofits that could take the children in while they await their hearings. The mayor also says no city resources would be used in the event the children are moved to L.A.
"These kids who are isolated, alone. Maybe are doing the right thing, maybe have made mistakes. Forget all that first," Garcetti said. "Let's get them some place safe and secure. Let's get them legal representation, which is what this country has always stood for."
A timetable has not been set.
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