Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Migrants sleeping at San Diego airport

 November 21, 2023 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Tuesday, November 21st.


Hundreds of migrants are sleeping at the San Diego Airport. More on what migrant advocates are saying is the problem, next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


The strong Santa Ana winds are expected to continue today.

Santa Ana's are strong dry winds from the desert that often pose a serious fire risk.

This week the winds don’t bring a great threat of fire thanks to cool November temperatures, and the rain we got last week.

That’s what National Weather Service meteorologist Alex Tardy says.

He also says the winds may reach 65 miles an hour in the local mountain areas.

“This is the strongest Santa Ana wind we’ve seen this year so far. We’ve had five other events. So this would be number six, and it’s much worse to the north.” 

San Diego's wind advisory is in effect through 4 p-m today.


The other side of the Ped-West pedestrian crossing at the San Ysidro Port of Entry is open.

That means travelers can now head into Mexico through the southbound facility at the border crossing.

But only between 3 p-m and 11 p-m.

Traffic into Mexico through Ped-West has not been allowed since April 20-20.

Last week, the northbound direction of the border crossing from Tijuana into San Diego reopened, but only for limited hours... from 6 in the morning, to 2 p-m.


The C-H-P is increasing enforcement over the Thanksgiving holiday in an effort to get impaired drivers off the roadways.

The agency says the increased enforcement will start at 6 p-m tomorrow, and go through 11-59 p-m on Sunday.

All available C-H-P officers will be on duty during that time.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend last year, 37 people were killed in traffic crashes statewide, and the Highway Patrol arrested over a thousand motorists on suspicion of D-U-I.


From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.


As we head into the holiday season, hundreds of migrants are sleeping in San Diego International Airport.

Border reporter Gustavo Solis says advocates see this as a sign that taxpayer dollars targeted toward migrants aren’t being well spent.

“Do you want water?” yes, yes, yes.” that’s a volunteer at san diego international airport. helping migrants reach their final destination. the work involved a bit of translating. and walking people through the tsa boarding process. “le voy a ensenar a donde va entrar, por que puerta, explicarte sobre el processo tsa.” volunteers also feed migrants. as much as 200 meals a day. that’s because more than 1,000 migrants have slept in the airport since november 10. this is after san diego county gave $3 million in taxpayer dollars to one local nonprofit to help this specific migrant population. other migrant advocates say the money is not being spent wisely. lindsay “what we’re seeing is that despite the influx of funding there are over 100 people sleeping at the airport every single night.” that’s lindsay toczylowski. executive director of immigrant defenders law center. the nonprofit helping migrants at the airport – at their own expense. Lindsay “people are arriving with no flights at all. so, they get there and are sleeping in the airport trying to figure out their flights still.” and some of those with flights are being sent to places where they have no support system. toczylowski says some are ending in shelters or on the street. most of the people sleeping at the airport come from the newly opened migrant welcome center run by sbcs, formerly known as south bay community services. migrants there get free food, water and access to wifi and phone chargers. everything they need to connect with friends or relatives in other parts of the country. most migrants have the means to cover their own flights. but in some cases, sbcs puts people up in hotels and even pays for their airfare. county supervisor nora vargas pushed to make this funding available. vargas  held a grand opening of sorts last week and called it an example for others to follow. “i think this should be the model for the united states.” but not everyone feels this way. kpbs interviewed more than a dozen nonprofit workers and volunteers. they described growing tension between sbcs and other immigrant-serving nonprofits. they point out that the county’s $3 million is running out fast. it was supposed to last 3 months, but sbcs is now saying it will be depleted in 2 months. “the fact that they’re saying that they’re going to run out of money in early to mid-december it doesn’t make any sense. i would like to see an accounting of actual expenses.” erika pinheiro is the executive director of al otro lado. she is particularly upset at the fact that sbcs is using county funds to cover transportation costs from cbp facilities to the welcome center. cbp used to cover the transportation costs - back when they dropped migrants off in transit centers throughout the county. now sbcs is using about 10 percent of the $3 million to transport migrants from cbp facilities to the welcome center. “because sbcs did not have that context, they made a side deal with border patrol to actually use the funds that were meant for nonprofits to pick migrants up from border custody and bring them to where the nonprofits are located. that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars that should have gone to nonprofits instead going to transportation which falls squarely on the purview of the federal government.’ kathryn lembo is ceo of sbcs. she says keeping services at the transit centers would have been more expensive than covering transportation costs to a centralized location. “anyone who was at iris and is here today can say that it’s a better site.” regarding the airport drop offs, lembo says they are now only sending people to the airport if their flight is within 10 hours. pinheiro and others say overall, sbcs is not being fully transparent in how it’s spending taxpayer dollars. sbcs provided nonprofits a budget that allocates $1.2 million on staff. but it does not say how many people are on staff or what their roles are. mauricio torre is vice president of program operations at sbcs. he went over the budget with kpbs. he says there is no set number of staff - because it fluctuates. “on average you’re looking at about 60 people on a regular basis and that’s including sbcs and our partners.” he says staff include the kitchen crew, people who welcome and assess the migrants, and people who connect them to flights and other services. flower alvarez lopez is the co-director of universidad popular. the organization has spent months helping migrants in the outdoor camps out in jacumba and san ysidro. and they also helped people at the cbp drop off sites before the migrant welcome center opened in october.Matt “i think it’s ridiculously frustrating to know that sbcs received $3 million and they’re going to spend it in less than two months when at the open air detention sites we see the most dire situations. and we run off volunteers and donations. we could have made those $3 million last way longer than two months.” sbcs stands behind their work. the welcome center receives 500 to 700 people each day. this is a totally unprecedented situation in san diego. and without the welcome center, they say some of those migrants could end up in the streets of san diego.lembo acknowledged tension between sbcs and other nonprofits. but she says they have provided services to more than 22,000 people so far.  and considers that a lot of help for $3 million. “if you look at this center and you spend any time at this center you will know that the migrants are getting good services.” back at san diego international airport, volunteers continue to struggle to keep up with the number of migrants showing up. “your flight is really soon – you’ll have to start going through security now.” what is most concerning to toczylowski is that some of the migrants at the airport are flying to cities where they don’t know anyone. or have somebody who is willing to help them. lindsay “it appears that some of those people at the end of the three days of sheltering, flights are being purchased for them to go to new york or seattle or other places. where if they don’t have a sponsor, they are essentially just entering into the migrant sheltering system of that other city.”lindsay “that is actually no different than what governor abbot does in filling buses in texas and sending them to other places round the country.” torre says staff at the welcome center work very hard to avoid sending migrants to shelters in other cities. however, staff members told kpbs that it’s happened in a number of cases. gusatvo solis, kpbs news.


A new report says more than half of those detained by immigration officials in the San Diego area are kept too long.

Reporter Matt Hoffman says overcrowding was, in part, to blame.

The report comes from the Department of Homeland Security’s office of inspector general..detailing the findings from unannounced inspections in May.  It found - more than half of the detainees in San Diego area detention centers were held longer than 72 hours.. Which is a national standard for federal agencies.. Pedro Rios is with the American Friends Service Committee.. Rios The concern is here if they’re held for a longer amount of time and if the facilities aren’t equipped for the needs they might have The report found Customs and Border Protection generally met other standards like providing food and medical care.. Except for some worn bedding at one facility. CBP told KPBS they were working to respond to our questions.. But the report did have two recommendations that officials responded to. The first was to come up with new strategies and solutions to manage delays.. CBP’s official response was they concurred.. And have already taken steps to do so by increasing staffing, coordination with community groups and using technology for virtual processing. The other recommendation was to review detainee custody logs each month to monitor progress.. Something CBP also agreed with. MH KPBS News. 


A community activist has filed two complaints with the California Department of Justice against the San Diego Police Department and Chief David Nisleit.

Reporter Alexander Nguyen says the complaints allege corruption and abuse of power.

Community activist Tasha Williamson is calling for the immediate resignation of San Diego police Chief David Nisleit and assistant chiefs Chris McGrath and Terence Charlot. The allegations come on the heels of a discrimination complaint filed by police Capt. Alberto Leos last month. He alleges that the department’s top brass altered reports concerning traffic collisions involving police officers. At the news conference, Williamson was joined by Yusef Miller, Executive Director of the North County Equity Justice Coalition. Yusef Miller North County Equity Justice Coalition. “Leadership is responsible and culpable, and we need to find out the truth of the matter. This ricochet is all the way down to the street cop, the cop that is on the beat.” In a statement, San Diego Police Officers Association president Jared Wilson says Williamson’s claims are *QUOTE* not credible and the SDPOA will be reviewing this for libel and legal action.” AN/KPBS.


Coming up.... We hear from our resident movie critics about the films they’re thankful for. That, just after the break.


Ahead of Thanksgiving, movie Critics Beth Accomando and Yazdi Pithavala share some films they’re thankful for.

Here’s their interview with my colleague Jade Hindmon.

TAG: That was Cinema Junkie Beth Accomando and Moviewallas’ Yazdi Pithavala, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host, Jade Hindmon.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Tuesday.

As we head into the holiday season, hundreds of migrants are sleeping at the San Diego International Airport, and advocates see this as a sign that taxpayer dollars targeted toward migrants aren’t being well spent. In other news, a new report says more than half of those detained by immigration officials in the San Diego area are held for too long. Plus, we hear from our resident movie critics about the films they’re thankful for.