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Casa San Diego is helping kids separated from their families due to border crackdowns

Photo credit:
Department of Health and Human Services

East San Diego has a significant role in the current government immigration crackdown. Images in the news are showing distraught children separated from their parents at the U.S. – Mexican borders.

Despite President Trump's recent executive order to not separate children from their families, there are still many who need living assistance until it's determined where they go next. 

These children are being brought to houses like Casa San Diego in El Cajon, California on Broadway. The shelter houses 65 boys between the ages of 6 to17. About 10-percent of the kids have been separated from their parents at the border according to KPBS.

Gerardo Rivera, associate vice president of immigrant children's services for Southwest Key Programs runs many of these shelters. There are 26 other shelters located in California with facilities in Texas and Arizona.  

For Rivera, the sudden concern for immigrant children being separated from their families is not a recent problem. In fact, the kids are often brought there for other reasons.

"This is not a new thing for us in the shelters," he said. "These kids come in and they're traumatized from a long time ago."

There are a few stages to the process reports KPBS: "The Department of Homeland Security transfers children to the Department of Health and Human Service's Office of Refugee Resettlement, which places them in shelters like Casa San Diego."

This past Friday local media outlets were allowed to come into Casa San Diego for a special tour. Reports say the boys are set up with three or four to a room, each containing a bathroom. They decorate their walls with religious items, artwork, and inspirational quotes. 

Kids can also use the phone to make 10-minute supervised calls and if a family member is sick or it's a special holiday, they can make additional ones. 

There is also an athletic field in the backyard and the children can take part in a student council. 

Currently, there are 11.351 children in custody according to the Department of Health and Services with 605 open beds, more are coming including a tent city in Tornillo, Texas.