Bell City Council to discuss temporary shelter of immigrant detainees

Bell City Council to discuss temporary shelter of immigrant detainees
Chaplain Joseph Moore stands in the Salvation Army building in Bell that could serve as a temporary shelter for Central American detainees. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The Bell City Council will consider approving a letter Wednesday night that supports the Salvation’s Army request for federal funding to create a temporary shelter for immigrant detainees from Central America.

Nearly two weeks ago, Bell officials said the nonprofit was planning on using a vacant shipping warehouse to provide transitional housing for more than 100 immigrants, some of whom are children.


The warehouse is owned by the Salvation Army and is in the northern section of the two-square-mile town, officials say.

"I think the community of Bell is a compassionate community, full of kindness and understanding," Bell Mayor Nestor Enrique Valencia said. "While not wealthy, we can come together in this humanitarian effort and be a fine example of 'America the Beautiful.' "

City officials say they would help the nonprofit's efforts by approving city permits without delay.

And now they want to send a letter in support of the organization's request for federal funding to create the shelter.

Details of the letter and the temporary shelter will be discussed at the council meeting.

The city's support is in contrast to Murrieta, where hundreds of protesters recently blocked buses while federal officials tried to move detainees into a facility in the Riverside County city.

The protesters said they did not want the detainees in their city, expressing concerns over security and diseases.

While the standoff generated national headlines, the reaction has been far less hostile in other parts of Southern California, including Bell, where some residents feel a kinship with the plight of the children.

Among those who will be attending the council meeting in Bell will be top Salvation Army officials.

The Bell Police Department will be on tactical alert should protesters make their way to the city, Bell officials say.

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