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CFA@LB Council on Anti-Racism and Social Justice (CARSJ) Child Detention Center in LB Statement

The Long Beach Chapter of the California Faculty Association (CFA@LB) is a social justice driven, anti-racist labor union representing over 2,500 faculty, librarians, coaches, and counselors at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). In light of the recent Long Beach City decision to create a child detention center in Long Beach, the CFA@LB Council for Anti-Racism and Social Justices opposes the center and stands with over fifty community and legal organizations that advocate for the needs of refugee children locally, statewide, and federally.

Recently, President Conoley expressed public support for warehousing up to 1,000 children at the City of Long Beach’s Convention Center, stating “California State University Long Beach looks forward to helping our City create a secure and enriching environment for these children. We have the people and expertise to share to make a difference.” Despite these public proclamations, the university community of faculty, staff, and students, were not consulted or informed of the decision to support a detention center for migrant children. As faculty, scholars, and experts on these issues, we are deeply concerned that our administration did not consult with the campus body before unilaterally making this decision. The campus’ voicing of public support is also reminiscent of CSULB’s collusion with ICE in deporting one of our Long Beach community members in 2016. Our students held the administration accountable in their demands to designate our campus as a sanctuary campus in 2017, which it refused to do. There is no transparency around CSULB’s continued support of deportation and detention, including the current detention of children at the Long Beach Convention Center. We question the administration’s motivation to be involved in the ongoing warehousing of children, as well as the lack of analysis of the structural policies that have produced this moment in Long Beach.

Our expertise warns that relying on large-scale “intake” facilities like a city’s Convention Center to even temporarily hold refugee children is not the best practice; these spaces are not shelters but rather expand the deportation-detention prison system. Specifically, President Conoley’s public support for the use of the Long Beach Convention Center not only authorizes University personnel to act in a social service capacity, but also constructs and legitimizes a powerful public-private partnership that inflicts violence and harm through the use of governmental funds and private contracts. Furthermore, we denounce deploying CSULB’s student population as either free labor or volunteers to aid the detention of children. As denizens, we do not support the City of Long Beach’s expansion of detention, in particular, through the concerted efforts to detain young girls. We do not want to live in or support a city where Indigenous people from Mexico, Central America, and the Tongva Basin are continuously harmed through the expansion of profit-driven and white-centric urbanism.

Research also shows that warehousing refugee children in the Long Beach Convention Center will not create a secure or enriching environment. This move is not only ill-conceived but is also cruel, harmful, and traumatic to the children. If city officials, community organizations, and leaders of the university want to advocate for migrant-and asylum-seeking children, we believe they should join current grassroots efforts to organize against the root causes of forced migration such as the economic instability, poverty, and violence in Central America and Mexico brought on by decades of U.S. intervention and foreign policy.

Economic agreements such as the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and security initiatives like the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), the Alliance for Prosperity, and the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America have further exacerbated the long legacy of U.S. counter-insurgency in what is called the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador). The U.S. support of the 2009 coup-d’etat in Honduras further militarized the country, increased human rights violations, and created precarious conditions for women, children, and LGBTQ communities. Instead of caging children, we must join in demanding the passage of the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act (H.R.1945), which will prohibit U.S. assistance to the police and military of Honduras and join organizations such as the Committee in Solidarity with People of El Salvador (CISPES) in their call to end U.S. aid to the military, police, and destructive economic policies in El Salvador. These efforts are informed by just and humane values, rooted in human rights, and are simply the right thing to do.

We Demand:

  • That CSULB administration provide transparency by holding a forum to explain its role in, and support of, the decision to warehouse and detain migrant children as an “emergency intake site” at the Long Beach Convention Center.
  • That CSULB provide transparency with any ongoing relationships and affiliations regarding the use of the Long Beach Convention center to detain migrant children
  • That local elected leaders call on federal elected officials to rescind the Title 42 border closure and restore access to asylum at the border and any ports of entry.
  • That local officials follow through on their agreement to make the facility temporary and close it by August 2nd, 2021; end holding children in large-scale influx facilities in general; and that these types of facilities not become the norm or the solution.
  • That this facility not be staffed by or increase the presence of ICE, CBP, or police/sheriff in Long Beach.
  • That unaccompanied children not be separated from their family and shuffled further through U.S. detention and deportation processes.
  • That unaccompanied children be reunified with their families or placed with vetted sponsors, quickly and with high priority, and that detained children receive guaranteed legal representation at no cost to them or their family