Migrant Shelter At San Diego Convention Center Closing
The San Diego Convention Center has played a role in helping house thousands of unaccompanied migrant children for the past three months, but it is now time to close the shelter as the center prepares to reopen for summer events.
The last of the children to be staying there were reunified with their sponsors Wednesday.
Mayor Todd Gloria expressed his gratitude to those involved in the effort.
“I think every San Diegan can be proud of everything that happened in the convention center, the way all these organizations — private, public, nonprofit — all working together to protect these kids. That’s what we should do, it should be a no brainer and San Diego absolutely stepped up,” Gloria said.
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Since the opening of the shelter at the convention center in late March, the Department of Health and Human Services says more than 2,400 unaccompanied children have been reunified with their sponsors.
As workers at the shelter begin to break down operations at the convention center, Arnulfo Manriquez, CEO of the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee, or MAAC, says the feeling is bittersweet.
About 150 staff members with MAAC worked with the children at the convention center. They were one of many organizations that provided services at the shelter.
From making sure the children were well cared for, to creating engaging activities and educating them.
“Education plays a big part of it as well. They go through a process of understanding what they’re situation is and what they’re rights are,” Manriquez said.
He says meaningful impacts were made between staff and the children.
“Just like when you get an attachment to a teacher in your class, and you love your teacher and 20 years later you still remember the impacts that the teacher had,” he said.
Gloria says San Diego will continue to be a welcoming city for all.
“I believe we will continue to have opportunities to step up and serve and I believe that we will. It may not be at the convention center, it may be more modest efforts,” Gloria said.