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City Tearing Down McGonigle Canyon Camps

The City of San Diego and landowner D.R. Horton have begun tearing down makeshift migrant shelters in McGonigle Canyon on the edge of Rancho Penasquitos. KPBS reporter Amy Isackson has details.

During the last two days, workers demolished about a dozen huts migrant laborers had constructed over the years on a city-owned hillside. San Diego Police Captain Boyd Long says landowner D.R. Horton was planning to begin removing the 50 or so shelters on its adjacent land last Monday.

Boyd Long: I think one of the things was the rain on the last weekend created a great deal of mud out there, so that may have set them back a few days. But it is my belief that they did start removing some property.

Long says both the city and D.R. Horton have allowed migrant workers back into the camps to collect some of their belongings. The workers fled about a month ago when D.R. Horton announced anyone found on the company's land for trespassing. The announcement came after conservative radio talk show host Rick Roberts and Minutemen invited people to spend the night in what they called the "Third World shantytown" to pressure the city to speed up its plan clean out the camp. Last month, about 150 Minutemen held a daytime protest on the canyon rim.

Teri Trujillo who runs migrant outreach for Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church, says since then, her group has been passing out blankets, tarps and jackets to the couple hundred migrants who lived in the canyon. She says the men have been sleeping in and around nearby tomato fields. Last Saturday, she says the church opened its doors because of the storm. And she says it may do the same again this weekend.

Teri Trujillo: If it starts pouring, then we'll place the call. And have someone come open the church. And we'll just bring food.

Trujillo says her group will also hold mass for migrant workers on a roadside in Rancho Penasquitos this Sunday.

Meanwhile, media reports and residents alleged migrants had a brothel in their camp. But Police Captain Boyd Long says after a two week undercover operation he found no proof to substantiate that claim. Amy Isackson, KPBS News.

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