ACLU-SDIC Testimony Urging The Board of Supervisors To Take Action

The following is the written statement provided by the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties’ Advocacy Director to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors urging action on the region’s migrant shelter crisis.

Good Morning Chairman Gaspar and Supervisors.

My name is David Trujillo. I am the Advocacy Director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. The ACLU is a core member of the San Diego Rapid Response Network, a coalition of human and civil rights, community and faith-based organizations formed just over a year ago to monitor immigration enforcement overreach and abuses occurring in our region.

We did not expect to be providing emergency shelter.  Nevertheless, we believe that every asylum seeker has a right to just and humane treatment.  We are here today in hopes of seeing immediate progress on:

  1. Government funding for migrant shelter operations and case management services (including travel, medical and legal)
  2. A confirmed, suitable and long-term location for the shelter
  3. Establishment of a Regional Working Group – made up of federal, state, county and local regional stakeholders to address both short-term and long-term solutions for the migrant shelter crisis in San Diego County

I want to emphasize that what San Diego County is experiencing is a migrant shelter crisis…caused by anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric that undermine a just and humane asylum process.

  • By funneling migrants to ports of entry, squandering resources to militarize the border, cutting the number of asylum applications processed daily, and compelling people to wait in Mexico for weeks, the Trump administration has caused a bottleneck of thousands of vulnerable people at the border.
  • Some asylum-seekers are waiting 45 days and longer in makeshift shelters in Mexico for their first opportunity to enter the United States through an official port of entry.

Since October 26, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has released hundreds of migrant families without warning and without following their usual protocol that ensures asylum-seekers have travel plans and a means to join sponsors elsewhere in the U.S.

  • ICE is abandoning asylum-seeking families on the streets of San Diego without food, transportation or shelter. Until recently, ICE didn’t coordinate or even communicate with local governments and nonprofit agencies who want to help these families.

The San Diego Rapid Response Network is helping to address this migrant shelter crisis created by the federal government. Our shelter has hosted more than 4,500 migrants – all of them families, parents with small children – since we opened in November 2018.

By the latest count, 8,500 unsheltered people live in San Diego County – the nation’s fourth largest homeless population of in the country.

  • ICE is adding 70 to 100 people to that population each and every day.
  • In the absence of a county government response, our nonprofit network has been the only resource for people who would otherwise be alone and destitute in our communities.

This is a leadership moment. San Diego County must provide proactive solutions to address this migrant shelter crisis.

  • We urge you to protect the safety and well-being of these most vulnerable county residents for the very brief time they are in our region.
  • We urge you to approve Supervisors Cox and Fletcher’s recommendations.

Thank you for your careful consideration of this very urgent issue and your constructive action.