Migrants stay at Border Line Crisis Center in Tijuana on Dec 21. 2022, while waiting to enter the United States.
Migrants stay at Border Line Crisis Center in Tijuana on Dec 21. 2022, while waiting to enter the United States. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

This post first appeared in the May 4 Morning Report. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

With the looming expiration of the federal government’s order under Title 42, San Diego is bracing for what could be a significant influx of migrants seeking asylum who were turned away during the pandemic. But it’s still unclear what the actual plan is. 

Nearly three months ago, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors directed Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer to prepare for the arrival of asylum seekers entering the U.S. to lessen the impact on the region’s growing homelessness crisis. 

On Wednesday, Michael Workman, the county’s director of communications, said a comprehensive long range plan is headed to the board soon.

In the meantime, county officials have been meeting with other agencies and service providers and prepared a list of unused and underused properties that may be used to build out shelter infrastructure. They’ve also petitioned federal representatives for help. 

Vargas asked the region’s congressional delegation for immigration reform legislation and funding. Supervisor Joel Anderson also pointed out that Congress made $800 million available last year for shelter and other migrant services, but the administration has yet to release the money to local governments and organizations. 

“Those seeking safety and asylum in our country have a right to humane treatment and local entities cannot bear the brunt of this need created by federal policies,” Vargas wrote. 

How we got here: The Trump administration put Title 42 to use on the rationale that it would limit the spread of Covid-19, and the U.S. Supreme Court kept the restrictions in place longer than planned. So when the shelters reached capacity, federal authorities just dropped hundreds of people onto the streets. 

Lisa Halverstadt reported last fall that dozens of migrants were staying in city-funded homeless shelters amid a spike in border arrivals. Shelter providers struggled to connect migrants to resources they typically tap into to aid homeless San Diegans. 

Deadline looms: CBS 8 reports that the Biden administration is sending 1,500 more troops to the southwest border to help when Title 42 expires on May 11. Exhausted migrants, some of whom said they hadn’t eaten in days, are already lining up. Some are being transported to Border Patrol stations to get the process of asylum started. Other border communities, like El Paso, have already declared a state of emergency

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria has also met with federal officials. “Ultimately, the only real solution is for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that constructively addresses this issue and ends this cycle of crises that have a profound impact on American cities,” he said in a statement. 

Clarification: This post was updated to clarify how Title 42 is used.

Jesse Marx is Voice of San Diego's associate editor.

Jakob McWhinney is Voice of San Diego's education reporter. He can be reached by email at jakob@vosd.org and followed...

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1 Comment

  1. Very simply, a comprehensive immigration plan will never become law until Democrats/progressives drop their plan for instant citizenship.

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