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Border & Immigration

Some asylum seekers still stuck between border fences after the end of Title 42

Before the end of Title 42 on Thursday, some local officials had predicted overwhelmed systems and large numbers of asylum seekers dropped off on local streets. But so far, those scenarios have not become reality.

Instead, hundreds of men, women and children are in limbo, stuck in an area between the U.S. and Tijuana border on U.S. soil — and in U.S. custody.

"We have been providing very basic necessities to about 400 families," said Adriana Jasso, the Program Coordinator with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) of San Diego. The social justice nonprofit has been working at the border for over two weeks.


Jasso said the asylum seekers are now mostly women and children who fled from danger in their homelands and now find themselves in precarious conditions. Most of them have been there three days, some of them a week.

"We continue to see a very, very concerning and dire situation, especially with families, with parents, with small children. We have seen children who have run a fever for over three days," Jasso said.

They are especially concerned for a baby who's been sick.

"She is 7 months old and she was registering a concerning swelling on the face. We called a doctor at a clinic," Jasso said. "They suggested to call Border Patrol as soon as possible, which we did. And we're still waiting," 

Jasso said the people in this holding pattern are registered and given a color-coded bracelet by border agents. While they are there, they are given only water and granola bars twice a day. She explained officials are aware of the situation because AFSC gives them updates. The organization also gave updates to staffers from the office of Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) who visited the area Thursday and Friday.


Jasso said because the asylum-seekers are on U.S. soil, their well-being is now the responsibility of the U.S. government

"The administration really needs to take responsibility and adhere to the fact that people are officially now under custody of Border Patrol , and therefore they have a responsibility to process people and to put an end to a situation," she said, adding that there had been plenty of time to plan and prevent this situation as Title 42 was coming to an end.

"We're asking for the authorities that are responsible for processing these people and for having contact with these people to act quickly, to act responsibly and to uphold the basic dignity of so many people that have gone through this situation," Jasso said.

Security was one of the concerns raised earlier this week by some local officials, for communities and for the asylum seekers themselves. San Diego County Sheriff Kelly Martinez said her department has added a squad of 11 deputies to patrol the rural back country, including Campo and Jacumba.

"It's really more of a humanitarian response for us," Martinez said. "But we haven't seen large numbers either."

Martinez said there has been an increase in calls for service in some of the back country. "But I need to remind everyone those are calls for service, which are people calling for our help, it's not an increase in crime," she said. "Some of the individuals coming across the border are calling 911 and asking for Border Patrol or for help or assistance."

Martinez said deputies can only render aid, or make arrests for crimes — but it's against state law for them to enforce federal immigration laws. "We don't do that. We don't ask immigration status, and we don't coordinate or work with Border Patrol on immigration issues," Martinez said.

She also warned against civilian patrols along the border, saying, "We've got this ... as the Sheriff's Department, we're out here to keep our community safe.

Some asylum seekers still stuck between border fences after the end of Title 42