The ACLU, the SDSU Center for Community Research and Engagement to Release a Report Highlighting Asylum Seeking Families’ Struggle to Find Refuge in the U.S.

Dec. 09, 2019

Ed Sifuentes, ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, 619-501-3408,

Lainie Fraser, San Diego State University,

SAN DIEGO – Tomorrow, the ACLU Foundation of San Diego and Imperial Counties (ACLUF-SDIC) and the San Diego State University Center for Community Research and Engagement will present a report highlighting migrant families’ struggles to seek asylum in the United States.

The report, called The Right to Seek Asylum, is a compilation of stories and data collected from migrant families who have been guests at the San Diego Migrant Family Shelter, which was created in late 2018 and is operated by the Jewish Family Service of San Diego.

“Our nation has long been a refuge for displaced people from all over the world who have had to flee their homes in search of safety and peace. The right to seek asylum in the United States is protected by domestic laws and international treaties,” said Monika Langarica, immigrants’ rights staff attorney for the ACLUF-SDIC. “Unfortunately, this report provides further evidence that the federal government has a long way to go if we are to live up to our values as a welcoming and just country.”

Since opening its doors, the shelter has provided assistance to more than 19,000 individuals seeking asylum. Researchers with the SDSU Center for Community Research and Engagement conducted a survey of 350 people, about two percent of shelter’s guests, and ACLUF-SDIC staff conducted 64 in-depth interviews to collect information on the migrants’ experiences and treatment by federal authorities.

“As we observe International Human Rights Day, I am troubled by the findings of our report. They confirm what we have heard from other sources – that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection is violating human rights norms, and their own standards of treatment, for migrants in its custody. This report provides a deeper understanding of the plight asylum-seeking families face even after reaching our country,” said Jill Esbenshade, the report’s co-author and professor at San Diego State University. “I’d also like to thank the SDSU students who participated in producing this report. I hope this research project has taught them how rigorous, social science can help shine a light on social injustices.”

A summary of the findings and some recommendations will be provided during a presentation, Tuesday at SDSU’s Scripps Cottage.

WHAT: Public release of The Right to Seek Asylum: Migrants’ Stories of the Struggle for Human Rights, Dignity, Peace and Justice in the United States

WHEN: Tuesday, December 10 at 12:30-1:45 p.m.

WHERE: Scripps Cottage at SDSU (5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego). Media please contact Lainie Fraser for a parking pass prior to arrival.

WHO: Jill Esbenshade, SDSU Professor of Sociology; Monika Langarica, Immigrants’ Rights Attorney for the ACLUF-SDIC

An embargoed copy of the report is available upon request. Contact Ed Sifuentes at 619-501-3408 or