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More migrants dropped off at San Diego transit centers while shelters remain overwhelmed

Jewish Family Services says it's "receiving only the most vulnerable asylum seekers released by DHS."

SAN DIEGO — U.S. Customs and Border Patrol released four to six busloads of migrants at the Iris Avenue Transit Center Monday morning. 

Non-profits have a tent set up in the parking lot of the facility. Volunteers are passing out food and clothing, charging migrants' phones and trying to help them reach their next destinations.

"Border patrol is releasing individuals who have their court documents and are ready to go onward to their final destination," said Paulina Reyes-Perrariz of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center. She is chair of the San Diego Immigrants Rights Consortium and she is also a member of the California Welcoming Task Force.

"However, we do have limited ability to house them and shelter them. I think right now what we're doing is assisting individuals and guiding them, to make sure they reach their final destinations," she added. "Most of the individuals here need to get to the airport. Most are not remaining in San Diego, they are moving onward."

According to San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond, as many as 2,300 migrants have been released at transit stations in San Ysidro, Oceanside, El Cajon and Otay Mesa West.

He told CBS 8 the federal government needs to provide more funding to address this issue and to ultimately come up with a more humane immigration system.

"It's not humane right now," said Supervisor Desmond. "I went down to the border when Title 42 was lifted. I saw hundreds of families from around the world laying at the border fence. It wasn't humane."

CBS 8 received the following statement from Jewish Family Services, one of the organizations that helps house migrants.

Every day, San Diego Rapid Response Network (SDRRN) Migrant Shelter Services welcomes hundreds of asylum seekers released from U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with a focus on those coming through the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Our resources and current infrastructure are stretched to capacity each night. This is in part due to decreased capacity at other non-governmental organizations in other parts of the region. This is despite repeated communication that our shelter system’s is close to or at our 300-person capacity every night. We continue to stand at the ready to welcome this number of individuals on a daily basis, as we have since 2018. 

Effective immediately and going forward, the shelter is receiving only the most vulnerable asylum seekers released by DHS, including those with medical conditions, families, pregnant people, LGBTQI, older adults, etc., as space allows. This change in who we are receiving is not a change in capacity. We will still be receiving upwards of 300 people each day. We are incredibly grateful to the local non-governmental partners who have stepped up to continue the critical work of welcoming with dignity and supporting the people seeking asylum who have been left by DHS on the streets of San Diego. As our capacity allows, we’re providing technical assistance and coordination to welcome at our shelter any identified vulnerable populations who have inadvertently been released to the streets by DHS. 

Presently, we cannot respond to requests coming through the SDRRN emergency hotline* to assist in sheltering additional asylum seekers. All levels of government must step up to repair our broken immigration system and welcome people with dignity and respect. We call on the local San Diego government to step forward and support those left on its streets by DHS that we do not have the capacity to assist. We are grateful to the State of California for its leadership and support of the migrant sheltering system, especially during the pandemic. We urge all levels of government to continue funding the critical resources needed to sustain operations and to welcome and meet the needs of all people seeking asylum arriving in the San Diego border region. SDRRN remains committed to welcoming asylum seekers into our country, with public health as our top priority. No one should stand alone in our community.

Watch Related: Hundreds of migrants dropped off at the trolley station in San Ysidro (Sep 13, 2023)

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