Migrant Children Arrive At San Diego Convention Center
Saturday, March 27, 2021
Credit: Pool photo via Nevin Cepeda / Union-Tribune
The San Diego Convention Center is now acting as a shelter for unaccompanied children who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, seeking asylum. Local political leaders announced Saturday that the Convention Center will hold exclusively teenage girls.
The first 500 arrived Saturday night and the Convention Center will eventually hold as many as 1,450 children.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said the use of the Convention Center is in line with the values of the city.
“We know that San Diego is a welcoming community, and we don’t mean that just by words but by our actions and our deeds,” he said at a press conference on Saturday at the center. “These are children. This is the right thing to do. And San Diegans will always do the right thing.”
San Diego’s congressional delegation joined Gloria and County Supervisor Nora Vargas on a tour of the convention center, which had previously been used to house unsheltered people during the pandemic.
Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, said housing the children in the Convention Center is a humanitarian response to a larger issue.
“This is not the answer to immigration reform. This is not the answer to asylum reform, or even the answer to hundreds of girls that will rest their heads here,” he said. “My colleagues here before you are all committed to solving the bigger problem.”
Case managers from South Bay Community Services will be on site to help the girls find their families in the U.S., or connect with sponsors. Health and Human Services officials expect each migrant teenager will stay at the shelter for at least one month.
The organization will soon begin taking donations to support the teenagers when they leave government custody. Officials will also lay out in coming days other ways that community members can help support the teenagers while they’re staying in San Diego.
The government is expected to continue to use the shelter to house unaccompanied minors through June.
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