PORT HUENEME, California — California lawmakers and religious leaders said Tuesday they were pleased with conditions of a temporary shelter in Ventura County for children caught crossing the border, but they're worried about the young immigrants' future.
After touring a federally run shelter for 575 teens at a naval base in Port Hueneme, members of the state's Latino legislative caucus and religious leaders said the children from 13 to 17 years old appeared happy. They saw them take classes and play sports but were not allowed to speak with them.
"I'm satisfied with how they are being treated," said state Sen. Norma Torres, a Chino Democrat, who was joined by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, Senators Ricardo Lara, Kevin De Leon and Lou Correa, Assemblyman Luis Alejo and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.
Religious leaders, who were led separately through the facility, said they worried about how the migrants would navigate the immigration courts while the government seeks to deport them.
"My fear is that we forget these children," said Episcopal Bishop J. John Bruno of Los Angeles. "We cannot forget them."
More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been detained after crossing the Texas-Mexico border since October in what President Barack Obama has called a humanitarian crisis. Temporary shelters were also set up at military bases in San Antonio and Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Obama appealed to Congress on Tuesday for $3.7 billion in emergency spending to deal with the flood of illegal crossings, largely by people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Murrieta, a city of about 100,000 people in southern Riverside County, has become a flashpoint, with demonstrators gathering daily since protesters forced government buses with Central Americans to reroute when they blocked access to a Border Patrol station.
Sherri Moyer, 60, of Murrieta, said at thee were about 20 demonstrators outside the Border Patrol station Tuesday afternoon.
"It's disrupted everybody's lives," Moyer said. "We went from everybody taking care of their family to people being afraid for their life, afraid for their health, afraid for what's happening on a federal level."
Also Tuesday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Southern California's largest immigration detention center is adding 650 beds, which will bring the capacity of the facility in Adelanto to about 2,000 detainees. The expansion will add a women's housing unit to the site 60 miles northeast of Los Angeles, spokeswoman Virginia Kice said.
Hamilton reported from Los Angeles.