San Diego County Declares Border Woes a Humanitarian Crisis
San Diego County Declares Border Woes a Humanitarian Crisis

By Brad Jones and John Fredricks

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has unanimously and officially declared a “humanitarian crisis” at the southern border.

According to San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond, the Sept. 26 declaration is a direct response to the federal government’s failure to provide enough resources to manage the inflow of asylum seekers.

More than 7,800 migrants have been dropped off at transit stations in the county since Sept. 13, according to Mr. Desmond.

“Our community is facing an unprecedented humanitarian challenge,” he said in a statement. “The situation has escalated rapidly as daily street releases continue, with no set end date in sight. These releases occur with little direction and minimal resources, leaving local communities grappling with an increasingly untenable situation.”

The burden of caring for asylum seekers has been “unfairly shifted” to local governments, non-governmental organizations—known as NGOs—and community members, he said.

The declaration calls on the federal government to fund and develop a long-term solution for the region, including a permanent facility and operational support when federal agencies release asylum seekers into the county and resources and personnel to manage the immigrants, as well as connect them to their sponsors and destinations so they aren’t released onto the streets.

Supervisor Jim Desmond speaks at a San Diego Board of Supervisors meeting on May 10, 2022. (Screenshot via San Diego County)

Hundreds of illegal immigrants are released daily into San Diego County cities, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol union.

“We’ve been averaging 400 to 500 a day,” Manny Bayon of the National Border Patrol Council in San Diego told The Epoch Times. “It’s being done everywhere—Oceanside, Carlsbad, Rancho San Diego, San Ysidro, and downtown San Diego.”

The border rush has overwhelmed NGOs, which are funded by the government to provide immigrants with basic necessities including food, clothing, and shelter at hotels such as the Crowne Plaza in San Diego.

“They’re all full—at or beyond capacity,” he said.

Mr. Bayon said Patricia McGurk-Daniel, the San Diego sector U.S. Border Patrol Chief, met with San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and other authorities on Sept. 19, and since then immigrants have been dropped off at transit centers throughout the county.

“Each station was told to drop them off at the nearest transit or trolley station,” Mr. Bayon said. “San Clemente Border Patrol Station had an influx, so they said take them down the road to Oceanside.”

Mr. Gloria and Ms. McGurk-Daniel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Desmond, who was at the Oceanside transit center on Sept. 24, told The Epoch Times he witnessed about 20 immigrants, mainly from South America, dropped off there.

“Our immigration system is broken, and people from far and wide are capitalizing on the federal government’s ineptness, putting San Diegans at risk,” he said.

Migrants cross the Tijuana River towards the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, Mexico, on May 11, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Although illegal immigrants faced uncertainty when Title 42 expired in May, would-be migrants around the world can see for themselves there is no resistance to illegal immigration, he said.

Buses transporting immigrants apprehended by border patrol agents have been on the increase since the creation of Operation Lonestar, a law enforcement operation launched by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in 2021 to help respond to the rise in illegal immigration throughout the state.

In an interview with The Epoch Times, Mr. Desmond called for a return to Trump-era policies and the rule of law as well as immigration reform.

“We don’t want the federal government’s money. We just want them to do their job,” he said. “Until they can responsibly manage this situation, they should not allow further entry into our region.”

The supervisor confirmed shelters housing immigrants in San Diego are at maximum capacity, even after the state spent more than $1 billion on their costs.

“The County of San Diego is not in charge of immigration,” he said. “The federal government should fund and operate temporary shelters or housing on federal properties and facilitate the processing of individuals to their final destinations rather than releasing them onto our streets and transit centers.”

More than 6.3 million illegal immigrants have been apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection since Biden was sworn into office less than three years ago. As of Sept. 26, the agency had more than 21,000 illegal immigrants in custody nationwide, according to the latest government data.

Migrants captured by US Border Patrol agents go through a processing center near San Diego, Calif., on May 31, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

U.S. Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.) also confirmed in a Sept. 15 statement busloads of illegal immigrants are being dropped off on the streets in Oceanside.

“These street releases, like previous ones, are a symptom of our broken immigration system.” Mr. Levin said. “Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform that provides the Department of Homeland Security with the resources and funding they need to receive migrants with dignity and respect. Instead, migrants are being used to score cheap political points. We need real solutions, not distracting partisan theater.”

The City of Oceanside’s elected officials, senior staff, and social services organizations are trying to help the immigrants “who were dropped off here without a choice,” he said.

Levin said has voiced his concerns to the Biden White House about the “lack of resources provided to our community to deal with this,” and is seeking a “safe, rapid, and respectful resolution” to the situation.

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