San Diego Migrant Shelter Moves To What Could Be A Permanent Location
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Photo by Max Rivlin-Nadler
A shelter that helped thousands of migrants in the days after they arrived at the southern border has found a new home, and what was originally viewed as a short-term solution could become a permanent fixture in San Diego.
Last fall, thousands of asylum seekers began arriving at the San Diego-Tijuana border. In response, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) abruptly stopped a program that helped migrant families coordinate their travel once they were released in the U.S.
Dozens of families were being dropped off overnight at the Greyhound Bus Station in downtown San Diego, without any idea of where to go or how to pay for it.
A coalition of groups known as the San Diego Rapid Response Network immediately sprang into action and opened a series of shelters for stranded families.
In a little over a year, the shelter, in its multiple locations, served over 20,000 migrants and helped them get medical help, coordinate and help pay for their travel, and assess their needs for the next immigration court hearing.
Most families only stay for a day or two, but are often getting their first nutritious meal or hot shower in weeks.
About a year ago, the shelter began using an empty county courthouse downtown. Now, it has found a more permanent location in a state-owned building in the Linda Vista that is run by Jewish Family Service (JFS).
While the numbers of families staying at the shelter has decreased since last year, due to the “Remain in Mexico” program, JFS believes that the shelter fills a need that San Diego has long had to help care for recently-arrived families.
“We’ve had ICE officers come here and see the work that we’re doing and they’ve been pretty impressed by the quality of the transportation and the quality of what we provide,” said Michael Hopkins, the chief executive of JFS. “It’s very difficult to believe that the government is going to go back to doing this work.”
Jewish Family Service has been contracted by the state to run the shelter for two years.
“It’s safe to say that this type of shelter is part of the fabric and part of how we welcome individuals in California,” Hopkins said.
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