WOODLAND -- Dozens of members and supporters of a group known as Indivisible Yolo marched to the Yolo County Juvenile Detention Center to express concerns about federal child immigrant detainees that might be housed there.
The march and rally was planned as a protest against the incarceration of a 14-year-old Honduran boy two months after he was granted asylum by the federal government.
"The rule is that you go to protective custody after that, but for some reason that didn't happen," said Seth Sanders of Indivisible Yolo.
Known only as G.E., the boy walked from Honduras to Texas after undergoing violent domestic abuse.
The Yolo County facility contracts with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Immigration lawyers took up his cause along with the Indivisible organization.
G.E. was released suddenly late Monday afternoon when the ORR declined to take responsibility for the boy and the State Department of Social Services also said it wouldn't care for the boy. That opened the door for Yolo County Health and Human Services to take custody of the boy indefinitely.
In a statement, the county said it acted quickly "...to place the child with a facility that can provide suitable care, housing and other services."
Members of the legal team indicated that it was in a foster care situation with a family that speaks Spanish.
"It's a home, not an institution," said Sanders.
That turned the protest into a celebration of sorts, with participants signing a large welcome sign to be delivered to G.E.
Holly Cooper, co-director of the UC Davis Immigration Clinic, helped gain G.E.'s release and said she hopes the case puts the federal government on notice.
“We will not stand for detaining children after they have been granted asylum," said Cooper.
Speakers at the march wondered how many other federal child detainees have been locked up unnecessarily.
A letter from G.E. to the group after his release was read by a Spanish interpreter, thanking the group for a duffel bag filled with clothes and other gifts.
"Thank you for the gifts and I will treasure them…I hope to meet you one day...with lots of love, G.E." read the letter.
There was a strong anti-Trump theme to the event. Indivisible Yolo President Emily Hill said they were glad G.E. has been released and is on a good path.
"We’re concerned about all the rest of the kids, and we’re concerned about all the anti-immigrant rhetoric that we’re hearing," said Hill.