The city blocks VisionQuest plans to operate a jail for unaccompanied minors

Los Angeles bans private immigration prisons disguised as “children's shelters”

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The town hall of The Angels approved on Tuesday a motion to ban the opening of immigrant detention centers operated by private companies including facilities for unaccompanied minors and that they usually disguise as “children's shelters”.

The provisional measure is to specifically prevent an Arizona company called VisionQuest open a detention center for children and adolescents who are in the custody of the Office for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

"Earning money with the misery and pain of children is morally wrong on many levels and we cannot allow it in our city, ”said the president of the City Council, Nury Martinez.

VisionQuest, benefiting from federal government contracts to operate detention centers in Arizona, Texas and California, plans to open a jail for unaccompanied minors detained at the border, which would be located at Arleta, a neighborhood in the north of the city, in a building on Woodman Avenue that used to be a support house.

According to a spokesman for the company, it is a shelter that offers educational programs, medical care, mental health, counseling and other services that unaccompanied minors require in order to reunite them with their families in the United States and place them in homes permanent within 10 to 60 days.

But the councilwoman Martínez denounced that this company has a history related to child abuse, so “I shouldn't be near immigrant children”.

Both immigration authorities and private corporations that have received government contracts refer to the facilities as "Detention centers", but for activists and local officials they are nothing more than jails or prisons.

"You can call them what you want, but I prefer to call them prisons because that's what they are," Martinez said.

"It's about prisons for children, let's be very clear about it," he said Angelica Rooms, director of the Immigrant Human Rights Coalition (CHIRLA), who referred to VisionQuest as a lucrative corporation with a history of abuse.

The measure approved by the Los Angeles city council comes into effect immediately to prohibit municipal permits and any type of construction or operation license from prisons to private companies.


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