Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he will coordinate with federal officials and local nonprofits to help make the city a destination for immigrant children detained after crossing the border.
Federal money would pay for legal representation and temporary shelter, while local nonprofits would help find homes for the children, Garcetti said Tuesday at a forum hosted downtown by Politico Magazine.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has contacted the city, but the mayor had few details about what accommodating the children would entail or when it would happen, the Los Angeles Times reported (http://lat.ms/1ntW2Yr ).
Garcetti said it's up to local entities to keep the kids someplace safe while the federal government figures out how to deal with the young immigrants.
"As a father, who are we as Americans if we don't step forward first and say, these kids who are isolated, alone ... let's get them someplace safe and secure," the mayor told the crowd.
Garcetti also said that Los Angeles would be an appropriate place to reunify many of the children with their families as their legal situation is worked out, because many of their parents are probably in the area.
Vicki Curry, the mayor's spokeswoman, said no city services or resources will be allocated.
Homeless activist Ted Hayes opposes the Garcetti plan, insisting there are American kids on Los Angeles streets who need help first.
"It's kind of a slap in the face to U.S. citizens," Hayes told KCBS-TV (http://cbsloc.al/1oIcvcG ). "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."
The surge of Central American children crossing into the United States has prompted controversy in other parts of California. Hundreds of demonstrators recently blocked buses trying to move detainees into a facility in Murrieta, drawing national headlines.
But other cities have been much more sympathetic. Bell, for instance, recently opened talks with federal officials and the Salvation Army about creating an immigrant shelter, the Times said.