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San Diego County Sues Trump Administration Over Asylum Policy

Activists for migrant rights surround a group of Honduran asylum seekers camp...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Activists for migrant rights surround a group of Honduran asylum seekers camped on U.S. soil at San Diego's Otay Mesa port of entry, seen from Tijuana, Mexico, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018.

GUEST: Dianne Jacob, chairwoman, San Diego County Board of Supervisors

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The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to sue the Trump administration over its handling of asylum-seeking families.

The decision was reached in a closed-door session. The vote was 4-1 with Supervisor Kristin Gaspar voting against suing.

A Department of Homeland Security representative did not reply to a request for comment on the board's decision, which comes after a recent vote to open a shelter to temporarily house migrants going through the asylum process.

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In a statement, board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob said the Trump administration "created this crisis by releasing asylum-seeking families into our community without providing critical resources or even places to shelter." Jacob said the lawsuit is an effort to hold the federal government accountable for failing to "consider the impact of its own actions on public health and safety," which has included separating migrant children from their parents.

RELATED: Asylum Seekers Letters Made Public At San Diego State University

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher released a statement supporting the decision to sue.

"While we want the courts to weigh in, San Diego County will not abandon asylum seekers," Fletcher said. "We are committed to continuing our work with San Diego Rapid Response Network and the state of California to ensure humane and compassionate treatment for all."

Supervisor Gaspar, who voted against suing, released the following statement:

"In an unprecedented maneuver today, my colleagues voted to hastily sue the federal government. This was done without any input from County staff, who was not given the direction or time to do any meaningful research or outreach to the agencies involved. The gains we have made with regard to assisting our asylum seeking families are now mired in a clumsy lawsuit that we have no chance of winning. I believe our federal immigration system needs major reforms, but I simply cannot put taxpayer dollars at risk for political posturing. I prefer to focus our time and efforts on real fixes rather than legal grandstanding."

County Supervisors Greg Cox and Jim Desmond declined to comment on the board's decision.

The decision came about two weeks after the board approved a migrant shelter in San Diego.

The San Diego Rapid Response Network, which has led efforts to assist asylum seekers in San Diego, said it "commends" the supervisors' decision.

"We are interested in learning details of the lawsuit," said the network, adding that since Oct. 26 of last year, federal immigration authorities have left thousands of asylum-seeking families "on San Diego streets without food, shelter or means to get to their final destinations."


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