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Migrant children seeking asylum leave San Diego Convention Center

According to the leaders, 2,408 children that stayed at the Convention Center reunited with family members here in the United States.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — After about four months, the San Diego Convention Center is no longer be a temporary shelter for unaccompanied migrants seeking asylum as of Thursday, July 15.

”If you take a look around and you look at the convention center, this was their Ellis island," said Rep. Juan Vargas. "This was their statue of liberty.”

According to the leaders, 2,408 children that stayed at the Convention Center reunited with family members here in the United States.

"And I can tell you definitively that was exactly what we did here," said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. "There are no tinfoil blankets. There are no chain link fences."

Gloria said local governments teamed up with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide educational resources, healthcare, and enrichment opportunities for these children.

Earlier this year, the effort did receive some criticism because at the time, the migrant kids received in-person learning from teachers, while San Diego Unified students were still distance learning.

This initiative started in March when San Diego agreed to be one of the cities to house migrant teenage girls. Border Patrol was overwhelmed.

"We meant that, and we still mean that today," said Chairman Nathan Fletcher.

The federal government flew in three planes full of children from Texas and bussed in other children from Arizona. Later on in April, boys were transferred to the convention center. 

Initially, the county said this shelter would operate through the end of June, which was funded by health and human services. 

Vice Chair Nora Vargas said she is proud of the collaborative effort to help these kids. 

"That’s who we are as San Diegans,” said Vargas on Thursday.

According to Health and Human Services, any children who are not reunified with a sponsor in these situations are transferred to an office of refugee resettlement (ORR) licensed care provider facility. 

Gloria said the Convention Center is preparing to start hosting large conventions again later this summer.

WATCH RELATED: Migrant shelter at San Diego Convention Center set to close July 15. (June 2021)