Los Angeles blocks private detention centers

Migrant Centers

People walk across a bridge as they leave downtown Los Angeles, with the U.S. Bank Tower, formerly known as the Library Tower rising above the rest of the skyline, Feb. 9 2006. (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles is blocking privately run detention centers from opening in the city, including facilities for immigrant youth in government custody, under a stopgap measure approved Tuesday by the City Council.

The Los Angeles Times reports the new rule is specifically aimed at stopping a privately run facility for “unaccompanied minors” planned for the Arleta neighborhood by the firm VisionQuest.

Arizona-based VisionQuest had inquired about converting a building once used as an assisted living facility.

Its spokesman Jeff Bender said in an email to the Times that the Arleta site would be a “safe shelter to provide education, mental health, trauma counseling, health care and other necessary services to unaccompanied minors with a goal of reunifying them with family here in the U.S. and placing them in permanent homes within 10-60 days.”

Council President Nury Martinez previously denounced that idea, saying that VisionQuest has a troubled history and “should not be anywhere near immigrant children.”

Immigrant advocates have pointed to scandals involving VisionQuest, including staffers slapping children at a Philadelphia shelter.

The new restrictions go into effect immediately. The temporary measure approved Tuesday can be extended to last up to two years, an interim step meant to prevent the targeted facilities from opening while officials prepare a permanent ban.

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