San Diego Asks for Federal Aid as Border Patrol Flies in Hundreds of Migrants From Texas

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Migrants stand while being detained by U.S. Border Patrol, after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border barrier on May 17, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

San Diego officials asked for additional resources from the federal government on Monday to help deal with hundreds of migrant families expected to be flown to San Diego from Texas in the coming weeks.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced Friday that they would begin sending flights of between 120 and 135 migrants to San Diego from the Rio Grande Valley, saying Border Patrol stations there are overwhelmed by a surge in migrant apprehensions.

The flights began last week, and the agency said it is planning three such flights per week going forward.

San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob said in an email she was "deeply concerned" that the additional migrants flown to San Diego would put an even greater strain on local nonprofits and taxpayers.

"Immigration is clearly the responsibility of the federal government, but now it's sticking San Diego County with the bill," Jacob said. "Since the opening of an emergency shelter downtown in October, the county has had to spend nearly $2 million to screen and process some 14,000 asylum seekers. Local taxpayers should not be on the hook for this."


Since last fall, a group of nonprofits operating as the San Diego Rapid Response Network has been operating a temporary shelter for migrants released from federal custody. The shelter is funded in part by county and state dollars.

migrant families

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher released a statement on Friday saying the county would continue to do everything it could to help the families being flown to San Diego.

"Donald Trump has manufactured this immigration crisis to drive his political agenda," Fletcher said. "His inability to lead has put undue burden on local communities. We stand ready to help immigrants and protect the public's health."

Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Monday the shelter's operators were doing "tremendous work" under difficult circumstances, and that they should be getting federal resources.

"It's incredibly important that the federal government jump in and ... provide help and support, and that is the message that I will continue to be advocating in Washington, D.C.," Faulconer said.

The flights to San Diego, which are operated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, are part of a larger policy to transport migrants held on suspicion of illegal entry into the United States to sectors with excess capacity.

ICE is also transporting migrants by bus from the Yuma Sector to the El Centro Sector, and from the Rio Grande Valley Sector to the Laredo Sector.