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Border & Immigration

San Diego County approved long-term plan for migrant drop offs

On Tuesday, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a long-term plan to address migrant services. But KPBS reporter Gustavo Solis says there is no funding to put that plan into action.

The County Board of Supervisors approved an advocacy plan Tuesday for development of a long-term migrant transfer site.

Border Patrol agents have dropped off more than 1,000 migrants and asylum seekers in the streets of San Diego since the San Diego County Migrant Welcome Center shut down Feb. 22.

Of the more than 81,000 migrants that passed through the welcome center between October and February, more than 95% of them only spent a few days in San Diego before moving on to other cities in the United States.


Given this dynamic, the county’s long-term plan calls for a federally funded “migrant transfer site and shelter.” This would be a permanent place where they can stay for a few days while finalizing their travel plans.

The board voted 4-1 in favor of accepting an advocacy plan report for the transfer site and directed Sarah Aghassi, interim chief administrative officer, to update the plan as needed.

While the plan does not identify a specific funding source, it could help San Diego County secure federal funding in the future.

“The plan can be used to advocate uniformly at the federal and state level with a very specific ask that will address the situation in its entirety,” Aghassi said.

Elected officials acknowledged that there is no guarantee that the federal government will help.


“I personally don’t have a lot of hope given what’s happening in Congress, that our request is going to be heeded,” said Supervisor Tara Lawson-Remer. “But I think it’s incumbent upon us to have done the work and done our due diligence and put forward a plan.”

Before the vote, Supervisor Monica Montgomery Steppe said the migrant crisis lies at the feet of the federal government, and added that Congress hasn't passed a bill to increase border security.

"We're left with very limited options,'' she said.

Other county supervisors agreed that the federal government should fund these migrant services.

Supervisor Nora Vargas thanked SBCS, the nonprofit that ran the Migrant Welcome Center, for their work in helping 81,000 migrants move through San Diego.

"I am really grateful for all of the work that they’ve done,” she said.

Supervisors also voted to add support for a transfer site to the county's 2024 Legislative Program and allowed Aghassi to seek grants or other sources to secure funding.