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Carbajal: Camp Roberts no longer being considered to house unaccompanied minors at this time

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Posted at 5:29 PM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 00:26:07-04

The Department of Health and Human Services is no longer planning to utilize Camp Roberts to house unaccompanied minors at this time, according to a spokesperson with Rep. Salud Carbajal's office.

The California National Guard base in northern San Luis Obispo County was being considered to house about 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children.

A coalition of local advocacy groups formed to fight the plan, saying Camp Roberts would be an unsuitable location for multiple reasons.

"Our two main problems with Camp Roberts that are permanent, that can't be undone is number one, it is a military base,” said Maricela Morales, Executive Director of the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE).

Morales says the base wouldn't be able to provide the same level of care for the children as a licensed shelter would and that its remote location and lack of oversight from immigration lawyers, medical professionals and others could cause psychological trauma for the children.

"That phrase they are not opening it 'at this time' still means that there's a possibility of it opening, so that worries me but of course, I am happy to hear that it's not opening,” said Julissa Peña, Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Immigrant Defense Center.

Despite the news, Peña says they will continue to advocate against the military base as a potential housing location for migrant children.

“The concerns are still real and maybe at this time, yeah, we can breathe a little bit but we might need to hold our breath again soon in the future, right? We don't know depending on the reasons they decided to stop it,” Peña said.

According to Rep. Carbajal's spokesperson, HHS officials said they've chosen not to move forward with Camp Roberts at the moment due to the decreased numbers of unaccompanied minors entering into the Department of Health and Human Services custody and that there is less need for any more additional sites.

In a statement, the Coalition against Camp Roberts said, "The #NotCampRoberts Coalition is relieved to hear the news that the children will not be coming to Camp Roberts. It has always been the Coalition’s intention to advocate in the best interests of the children. We recognize the challenges that the Biden Administration faces as they move forward in its efforts to respond to this humanitarian crisis. The Coalition will continue to work toward comprehensive immigration reform that will include providing safe temporary housing for asylum seekers and advocating for children to be united with family or sponsors as soon as possible."