UNITED STATES NEWS

US Border Patrol has released thousands of migrants on San Diego’s streets, taxing charities

Oct 10, 2023, 5:45 PM

Migrants line up to take a bus to the airport Friday, Oct. 6, 2023, in San Diego. San Diego's well-...

Migrants line up to take a bus to the airport Friday, Oct. 6, 2023, in San Diego. San Diego's well-oiled system of migrant shelters is being tested like never before as U.S. Customs and Border Protection releases migrants to the streets of California's second-largest city because shelters are full. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

 

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Over five years, the largest U.S. city on the Mexican border developed a well-oiled system to shelter asylum-seekers.

That system is being tested like never before as U.S. Customs and Border Protection releases migrants to the streets of California’s second-largest city because shelters are full. Since Sept. 13, about 13,000 have been dropped at transit stations with notices to appear in immigration court at their final destinations in the U.S., with about 500 more arriving daily.

Migrant aid groups blame a mix of circumstances for the shelter crunch: reduced government funding; CBP’s practice of sending migrants from Texas and Arizona to be processed in San Diego; and a surge in illegal crossings. Last week, President Joe Biden’s administration advanced plans for a border wall in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and said it would resume deportation flights to Venezuela.

Before they are released in San Diego, some migrants being dropped off have been waiting between a double-layer border wall or camping under Border Patrol watch in remote mountains east of the city. CBP closed a major pedestrian border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, on Sept. 14 and assigned more officials to processing migrants.

“Many do not know where they are, that this is San Diego, this is (the) San Diego region, the nearest airport is San Diego and how to get to their final destination. That is what we’re trying to provide support with,” said Paulina Reyes-Perrariz, managing attorney for Immigrant Defenders Law Center’s cross-border initiative.

Illegal crossings topped a daily average of more than 8,000 last month after a lull following the start of new asylum restrictions in May had diminishing impact and people from dozens of countries, notably Venezuela, were drawn by prospects of jobs and safety.

Similar to other U.S. border cities, about 95% of migrants in San Diego quickly move to other parts of the country. That’s a sharp contrast to cities far from the border, such as New York and Chicago. But the constant churn of exhausted, disoriented migrants from more than 100 countries has created other strains that the San Diego County government calls “an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.”

Last week, after a community recreation center could no longer handle the flow of migrants, the Border Patrol resumed drop-offs at a transit center. Arrivals from China, India, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and many west African countries filled a parking lot to charge phones, eat, use the bathroom and wait for free shuttle buses to the airport. “Is California far from here?” an Eritrean man asked volunteers.

Shuttles were announced in Spanish and Arabic. Al Otro Lado, a group aiding migrants, is seeking volunteers who speak Russian, Pashto, Creole, French, Portuguese, Amharic, Hindi, Mandarin, Somali, Turkish and Vietnamese.

“It’s a brief moment of intervention before they can move on to be connected with their loved ones,” said Kate Clark, senior director for immigrant services at Jewish Family Service of San Diego.

Shelters still accommodate families with young children, members of the LGBTQ+ community, the elderly and medically frail. The drop-offs are largely for single adults.

Since 2018, Jewish Family Service of San Diego and Catholic Charities together have helped more than 430,000 migrants in the region.

But Catholic Charities of San Diego recently halved capacity at the two hotels where it houses migrants to about 800 people, who stay an average of less than two days, said CEO Vino Pajanor. “The major issue” is less federal funding as San Diego competes with New York and other cities for support to aid migrants, he said.

Jewish Family Service has maintained shelter capacity at about 950 at a hotel and another large facility.

CBP did not respond to questions about the drop-offs. The Department of Homeland Security said last month that it has given $790 million for migrant shelters this year and asked Congress for an additional $600 million.

Aid groups say government support is needed even for the services at the San Diego transit center parking lot, where migrants get travel advice from volunteers over the steady noise of railroad crossing bells and bus horns. County supervisors on Tuesday were set to consider whether to spend $3 million to keep the service for three months.

The Border Patrol dropped off about 400 migrants by early afternoon one recent day as airport shuttles left about every hour. Overnight camping is prohibited. Migrants with flights within 24 hours are encouraged to wait at the airport.

The parking lot was a brief stop for Pedro Cardenas, 30, who was booked on a red-eye flight to Newark, New Jersey, after a grueling trip from Guayaquil, Ecuador. Smugglers squeezed about 14 migrants in a vehicle meant for five, forcing them to go hours without water or a bathroom break.

Cardenas, a mechanic on mining equipment, said violence and lack of work prompted him to leave his wife and child behind. He hopes to return with savings to buy land in Ecuador.

“I feel safer,” he said. “I feel happy but sad at the same time because I am not with my family.”

As night fell, volunteers at a church with room for 40 people sought to make sure no one would sleep on the streets. Rincon Marin, 26, arrived too late in the day for a flight to his final destination in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and accepted the church’s offer with a fellow Colombian who was headed to Columbus, Ohio.

“Happy, content,” Marin said to describe his feelings before rushing off to brush his teeth at a portable sink and squeeze into a car on his way to overnight lodging.

 

United States News

Associated Press

Defense secretary tells US Naval Academy graduates they will lead ‘through tension and uncertainty’

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told U.S. Naval Academy graduates Friday that they will be leading future sailors and Marines “through tension and uncertainty,” noting how two graduates from last year were just aboard the USS Carney in the Red Sea, where they helped shoot down missiles and drones. The Navy has […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

American soldier arrested in Russia over an alleged theft will remain in custody, state media report

An American soldier arrested in Russia’s far eastern city of Vladivostok on charges of stealing lost an appeal against his detention and will remain in custody, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported Friday, citing court officials. The soldier, identified by court officials as Gordon Black, will remain in custody at least until July 2, […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Stock market today: Wall Street futures up, but on track for first losing week in a month

Wall Street rose to modest gains before the open Friday as markets try to claw back some of this week’s losses. Futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.3% before the bell, while futures for the Dow ticked up 0.1%. A flurry of mixed results this week from big U.S. retailers effectively signals the end of […]

10 hours ago

Associated Press

More severe weather forecast in Midwest as Iowa residents clean up tornado damage

GREENFIELD, Iowa (AP) — The skies were blue and the wind was blowing as residents of the small city of Greenfield, Iowa, worked to clean up two days after a destructive tornado ripped apart more than 100 homes in just one minute, took the lives of four residents and injured at least 35 more. All […]

12 hours ago

Associated Press

Hunter Biden arrives at court for a final hearing before his June 3 gun trial

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Hunter Biden is back in court on Friday for the final hearing before he’s expected to stand trial on federal firearms charges in Delaware as his father’s reelection campaign unfolds. President Joe Biden’s son didn’t speak to reporters as he followed his lawyers into the Wilmington courthouse. He’s charged with lying […]

13 hours ago

Arizona doctors California abortions...

Associated Press

Arizona doctors can come to California to perform abortions under new law signed by Gov. Newsom

Arizona doctors can temporarily come to California to perform abortions for their patients under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

US Border Patrol has released thousands of migrants on San Diego’s streets, taxing charities