A U.S. Border Patrol agent keeps watch as migrants enter a vehicle to be transported from a makeshift camp between border walls between the U.S. and Mexico in San Diego on May 13, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO—As U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents continue to drop off hundreds of migrants at transit centers throughout San Diego County on Sept. 15, local politicians are speaking out against the policy.
The cited cause of the drop-offs is an attempt to clear a space between two U.S.-Mexico border fences where more than 700 migrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees had been camping, a border patrol statement read.
On Sept. 14, officers closed the Pedestrian West border crossing in San Ysidro so authorities could process the people stuck between the border. Migrants have been brought to transit centers as far north as Oceanside.
“I have been in close communication with the city of Oceanside’s elected leaders and senior staff, as well as local social services organizations, to help the migrants who were dropped off here without a choice and I applaud their responsiveness,” said Rep. Mike Levin (D-Dana Point). “I have also communicated my concerns to the White House about the lack of resources provided to our community to deal with this. I’m committed to ensuring a safe, rapid, and respectful resolution to this situation.”
He described the country’s immigration system as broken and urged Congress to act.
Other officials were more direct.
“This isn’t humane. This isn’t compassionate,” wrote San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond on Sept. Thursday. “The Federal Government is failing in its obligation to protect the people of San Diego County. This system is broken and puts our region at risk. If the Federal Government wants to process asylum seekers, it must provide adequate resources to manage people entering our area.”
“We already have a severe homeless problem in San Diego County, this will only worsen it,” Mr. Desmond said. “We should not be forced to chase the Feds’ actions to protect San Diegans.”
The drop-offs have overwhelmed nonprofits, such as Jewish Family Service, which runs the shelter system for the San Diego Rapid Response Network, a coalition that supports asylum seekers arriving in San Diego.
“Effective immediately and going forward, the shelter will limit arrivals only to the most vulnerable asylum seekers released by [the Department of Homeland Security], including those with medical conditions, families, pregnant people, LGBTQI, older adults, etc., as space allows,” a statement from the nonprofit reads.
County Supervisor Joel Anderson penned a letter to President Biden asking for assistance
“Receiving assistance from the federal government to process the asylum seekers entering San Diego and immediately halting the lateral transfer of asylum seekers from other states will allow us to better address this continuing humanitarian crisis without adding to our region’s existing homelessness crisis,” he wrote.
According to Mr. Anderson’s letter, the San Diego Rapid Response Network has served more than 157,000 people with shelter and other humanitarian aid since the Department of Homeland Security began releasing hundreds of migrant families onto San Diego’s streets in the fall of 2018.
“We expect an unknown number of individuals to be released by [the Department of Homeland Security] directly into our community, left at transit centers throughout the region to fend for themselves,” Mr. Anderson wrote. “This is neither safe nor fair to San Diego County residents nor to the those seeking refuge in our border county.”