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Pomona Meeting Fails to Resolve Cuban Issue

April 14, 1988

A meeting between city, state and federal officials failed to resolve differences between the agencies over two Pomona-area facilities that house mentally handicapped Cuban refugees.

An aide to Rep. David Dreier (R--Covina), who arranged the meeting, said that although the congressman was unable to persuade officials from the U. S. Department of Health Services to relocate the facilities, he viewed the discussion as "a step in the right direction."

"His long-term goal is to get (the halfway houses) removed," said Mark Harmsen, a field aide for Dreier who represented him at the meeting.

Officials' complaints about the two facilities--Pomona Manor and Country Manor, the latter across the city line in Chino--began earlier this year after police reported that they had arrested 26 Cuban refugees over a nine-month period.

The facilities house 79 psychiatric patients who came to the United States from Cuba during the 1980 Mariel boatlift.

Police Chief Richard Tefank said federal immigration officials promised greater help in identifying residents of the halfway houses who are arrested.

Mayor Donna Smith, who has called for the facilities' removal, said she left the meeting with mixed feelings.

"They know we're watching them," Smith said. "I don't think we walked away with our questions answered, but we walked away with some understanding."

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