I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or anything else you celebrate. I was able to spend some quality time with my wife and kids and enjoy our amazing weather. I wasn’t planning to send any emails out this week, but a situation has been developing in our region that is heartbreaking and I wanted to give you an update. Over the past four days, 1,071 migrants have been dropped off at transit stations across San Diego County.
Here’s how it works. People from around the world come across our southern border and ask for asylum. If they’re deemed qualified for a hearing, they’re given a court date in the future. Federal law only allows Border Patrol agents to keep these asylum seekers for a limited time. When that time expires, they have to release them. So, for the past four days, Border Patrol has been dropping hundreds of people a day at various public transit stations across San Diego County.
Our immigration system is broken and it’s now on full display in San Diego County. This is not humane. This is not compassionate. My heart breaks for these people who are trying to better their lives. The majority of the migrants don’t speak English and don’t have the resources to get to their final destination, but they’re just dropped and left in our County. Charities in our region, led by Jewish Family Services and Catholic Charities, have stepped up to serve and help manage the migrants coming out of Federal release, but they have limited capacity and resources. The County of San Diego has about 600 beds available, and the current influx exceeded capacity.
The Federal Government is using these asylum seekers as political pawns while straining our resources in San Diego County.
The Federal Government is failing in its obligation to protect the people of San Diego County. This system is broken and puts our region at risk. If the Federal Government wants to process asylum seekers, it must provide adequate resources to manage people entering our region.
We already have a severe homeless problem in San Diego County and dropping 1,000 people onto our streets will only perpetuate the issue. Our hospitals, homeless shelters, law enforcement, public health department, and social services are already at and beyond capacity and should not be forced to chase the actions of the Feds to protect San Diegans.
Dropping migrants seeking asylum at our transit centers without critical resources to manage them puts the asylum seekers at risk, and it places the people of this region at risk.
The Federal Government should fund and operate temporary shelters or housing, on Federal properties, and process people through to their final destinations, not release them on our streets and transit centers. They should not allow anyone else into our region until they are able to manage them.
In the meantime, I’m going to continue to look for solutions to help those in our County and work to fix our broken immigration system. I will keep you updated.
San Diego County District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond