SAN DIEGO — United States Health and Human Services said 225 migrant girls arrived in San Diego on Wednesday. The arrival was the third group of unaccompanied minor females to be housed at the Convention Center downtown. The unaccompanied children seeking asylum are between the ages of 13 and 17.
The girls have been flown to San Diego from a Border Patrol facility in Texas. The plan is meant to get the unaccompanied minors out of Border Patrol facilities and into more long-term housing. Wednesday’s arrival came on the heels of 12 more positive cases being reported in the minors already at the Convention Center bringing the total number of COVID-19 positive cases to 82 as of 10 a.m. Wednesday. United States Health and Human Services Acting Regional Director Bonnie Preston said Wednesday night that the number of cases had grown to 92.
There were over 700 girls at the Convention Center after the third arrival on Wednesday.
As for the girls who contract COVID-19 at the Convention Center, authorities said they are being quarantined on a different level than the general population of girls. All unaccompanied minors are being tested for COVID-19 every three days.
The average child will stay for about a month at the shelter. During that time, social workers will try to confirm their identity and find relatives or sponsors in the U.S. where they can stay until their asylum cases are adjudicated. A judge must decide whether they can permanently stay in the U.S. or if they must return to their home countries.
“This is not the answer to immigration reform. This is not the answer to asylum reform, or even the answer for hundreds of girls who rest their heads here over the next few months,” acknowledged Rep. Scott Peters (D) – San Diego. “Our action here today and over the next few months is not to fix all that. This is an act of compassion, neighbor to neighbor.”
The facility is scheduled to run through the end of June. City officials said they must be out by the middle of July because the convention center is scheduled to host its first convention in more than year in early August.
Watch: Questions and answers regarding migrant children staying at San Diego Convention Center