Nestor Valencia has been watching the news for the past few weeks like the rest of us. He’s seen images of migrants coming across the border in unprecedented numbers. And, he’s been concerned about the children who have been coming into the US in very large numbers.
Valencia, the current mayor of Bell, has a particular appreciation for those kids. 45 years ago he migrated illegally to the U.S. In a city hall interview the mayor told me, “We came because my mom was going to keep the family together. We came for opportunities. We know these opportunities exist.”
Valencia, who is now 49, was 4 when he, his mom and three siblings crossed the border. In the 5th grade he became a naturalized citizen.
He tells me that up near the 710 freeway a Salvation Army shelter in Bell is trying to get federal money to house undocumented children. The city, he says, does not have to approve this. And, while it is not a city proposal or his, he empathizes with today’s migrant kids. He remembers how scared he was. He know, he says, the America is a land of opportunity and compassion and is certain those coming across the border now from countries in Central America must be terrified.
The only thing the city would have to do in helping the shelter would be approving permits. But, he says the city council approved a resolution a long time ago supporting these families and situations.