Wendy Espinoza, left, weeps during Supervisor David Campos’ press conference. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on July 15 passed a resolution providing humanitarian relief to undocumented unaccompanied children. Photo Dhoryan Rizo

While thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children risk everything in reaching the U.S.-Mexico border, only to be held in prison-like detention facilities, San Francisco is taking a stand.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on July 15 unanimously passed a resolution calling for immediate humanitarian relief for the detained children. The resolution calls for the allocation of resources to children living in limbo while awaiting immigration proceedings.

“For the past three decades, the United States has intervened in our countries and implemented poor domestic and foreign policies that have affected our people and further relegated us to poverty,” said Lariza Dugan-Cuadra, executive director of the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN). “This is why we have forced migration–parents do not risk their children unless they have dreams and better hopes for them.

“We, the community, are committed…to assisting these children in their recovery from a treacherous journey, impacted by detention in crowded facilities along the border,” she added.

Supporters of the resolution hope that San Francisco–a sanctuary city, historical safe haven for immigrants and refugees, and pioneer in national civil and human rights movements–will once again serve as a model for how Washington should respond to the plight of migrant children.

The resolution demands action in the form of social, medical and legal resources and protection of these minors–and most importantly, for compassion for the lives and futures of these minors.

“(It is) about sending a very clear message that the City and County of San Francisco is on record saying, ‘the way that our country is dealing with this tragedy is simply shameful–the United States of America is better than this,’” said District 9 Supervisor David Campos, who introduced the bill. “If the conditions that we see here–how these kids are being treated, where they are being housed–were happening anywhere else in the world, we would be denouncing those nations and saying that it is wrong.”

Federal data places the number of unaccompanied children that entered the United States since Oct. 2013 at 52,000, while Bay Area organizations such as CARECEN estimate that up to 250 children enter the Bay Area each month to reunite with family members, putting these local relief organizations at capacity.

Supervisor David Campos during a press conference on July 15. Campos introduced the resolution, which was unanimously passed, that provides humanitarian relief to undocumented unaccompanied minor. Photo Dhoryan Rizo

“At our center, we have seen many undocumented minors that cross the border to look for a brother, an auntie–somebody. We knew that this was brewing. These children…face a lot of danger, and when they come here they could be prey for anything,” said Melba Maldonado, executive director of La Raza Community Resource Center. “They need to go to school, they need shelter, they need services. They are (being detained) without representation.”

Many of the unaccompanied children that are apprehended at the border originate from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador–countries that have been afflicted by war, drug trafficking, and that have some of the highest murder rates in the world. Fleeing desperate social and economic conditions in their home countries, many of these children view the United States as their “salvation,” said Maldonado.

“Migrations don’t happen in a vacuum, there are root causes. We all know these roots–extreme poverty, violence, lack of opportunities, healthcare and education,” said artist and community activist Edgar Ayala. “And of course the policies of Washington for Central America throughout the last few decades…sending money to police and arming the military of Central America is not going to solve this crisis.”

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that roughly 90,000 children will attempt the dangerous and oftentimes traumatizing journey through Central America and Mexico this year. Many of them will be turned back–a move that could prove fatal.

The steady influx of unaccompanied minors is considered a humanitarian crisis, and human rights advocates are urging the federal government to declare a state of emergency and to extend resources to the children.

“When we see injustices in our own country we have to speak out against them and also commit ourselves to being part of the solution,” said Campos. “We are the wealthiest country in the world…that has historically stood for freedom, equality, civil and human rights. This is the time we need to show that.”e on July 15. Campos introduced the resolution, which was unanimously passed, that provides humanitarian relief to undocumented unaccompanied minor. Photo Dhoryan Rizo