San Diego County Supervisors OK Funding for ‘Migrant Transit Center’

San Diego County Supervisors OK Funding for ‘Migrant Transit Center’

Illegal immigrants utilize shelter services provided by nonprofit groups in San Diego on Feb. 22, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

City News Service
City News Service


Updated: 5/23/2024


SAN DIEGO—The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 4–1 on May 21 to accept nearly $19.6 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for a transition day center to help immigrants entering the United States travel to their final destinations.
Supervisors on April 30 voted 4–1 to advance the proposal, after directing Sarah Aghassi, interim chief administrative officer, to begin programs to temporarily provide shelter, food, transportation, acute medical care, personal hygiene supplies, and labor to support immigrants recently released from federal Department of Homeland Security custody.
Board Chairwoman Nora Vargas said the money would address “one of the biggest challenges” facing the county, global migration.
Speaking through board clerk Andrew Potter—due to a vocal cord issue—Ms. Vargas said the county was “taking a monumental step forward in addressing the needs of our migrant and refugee communities.”
She added the services are about treating every individual with dignity and respect.
Supervisors also approved a provision that requires nonprofit contractors to accept all immigrants, to ensure they don’t end up on the streets.
In a statement, Ms. Vargas said the county will move forward with soliciting bids to establish the center.
The funding should be available by the end of May, with proposals due in June and a contract awarded in July, according to Ms. Vargas’ office.
The board voted Tuesday after hearing an update from Barbara Jimenez of the county’s Department of Homeless Solutions and Equitable Communities. She went through the steps county officials have taken since the FEMA money was first made available, including a meeting with nonprofits that assist immigrants.
Feedback from that meeting included a suggestion that language translation and “culturally informed” services be made quickly available to those starting their journey in the United States, she said.
Ms. Jimenez said that since mid-September, more than 136,000 immigrants have been released from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol custody in the county.
Just as he did in late April, Supervisor Jim Desmond voted no, saying the money doesn’t equal a long-term plan for a national migration crisis.
This item “effectively approves and perpetuates the federal government’s mismanagement of the border,” Mr. Desmond said. “I refuse to be complicit in a broken system.”
Mr. Desmond criticized the Biden administration for not following the law, and once again stressed the need for better security and vetting process for immigrants.
More people are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border than the Border Patrol can manage, which is a safety concern, Mr. Desmond said. He said more than 80 percent of immigrants claiming asylum don’t qualify, and there’s no recourse for those who don’t show up to their court date.
“We should not be tolerating the current situation at the border,” he also said.
Vice Chair Terra Lawson-Remer said Mr. Desmond knows that there was a bipartisan bill in Congress that would have answered some of his concerns—but former President Donald Trump didn’t want it passed, so it would be a political weight around President Joe Biden’s neck.
“We all agree that we have to fix the border crisis,” and that more money is needed for security, she added.
“I know that we never get to say the stuff that’s really going on; we just sit there and have theater every day,” said Ms. Lawson-Remer, who praised the CAO’s office for working to prevent immigrants from being stuck in the county.
Supervisors last October approved $3 million, followed by an additional $3 million in December, to open a temporary migrant center.
After that facility was closed due to a lack of funding, supervisors in late February approved Ms. Vargas’ proposal for a sustainable, federally funded center.

Breaking news gathering service based in West Sacramento, California, USA Gathering and distributing breaking news content via video, photographic and audio

Author's Selected Articles
California Insider
Sign up here for our email newsletter!
©2024 California Insider All Rights Reserved. California Insider is a part of Epoch Media Group.