U.S. customs and border patrol check migrants before they enter a van near Jacumba to be taken for processing on Sept. 17, 2023.
U.S. customs and border patrol check migrants before they enter a van near Jacumba to be taken for processing on Sept. 17, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The past two weeks, federal authorities have dropped thousands of asylum seekers at transit stations across the county, leaving service providers and volunteers to scramble to their aid.

Earlier this week, KPBS and other outlets reported that U.S. Customs and Border Protection also brought dozens of migrants to Jacumba Hot Springs, about an hour east of downtown, to be processed.  

Meanwhile, county and city officials are calling for additional federal resources. Some including County Supervisor Jim Desmond have raised concerns about how the burst of migrants could increase homelessness in the region. For now, the impact of the last two weeks of drop-offs on homeless service providers is unclear.

One thing that is clear: Migrants are showing up outside city shelters and the city’s downtown Homelessness Response Center.

San Diego Housing Commission data showed that police and homeless service providers made 551 shelter referrals last week. That’s up from an average of 398 referrals the previous 10 weeks. There’s a bit of nuance there, but our Lisa Halverstadt has more details here.

How migrant shelters are holding up: Catholic Charities San Diego and the San Diego Rapid Response Network, which operate shelters that house migrants before they move elsewhere, say they have continued to only take in asylum seekers deemed vulnerable by federal authorities.

Read more about what service providers are seeing here.

How others are stepping up: North County-based Interfaith Community Services and a slew of other community groups are trying to fill the gap. CBS 8 reported on their response to hundreds of people being dropped off in Oceanside.

Interfaith spokesman Daniel Gauthier told Voice of San Diego people being dropped off in Oceanside are largely receiving vouchers to stay at hotels rather than in already-full shelters. Many need significant assistance.

“Lots of people being dropped off have nothing,” Gauthier said. “Some might have a backpack with a change of clothes.”

City Commission Ousts Personnel Chief 

File photo of San Diego City Hall / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran

 The Union-Tribune revealed that the city’s Civil Service Commission voted 3-2 this week to fire the city’s personnel director.

The story behind the story: The vote coincides with a push by Mayor Todd Gloria and Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert to transfer city hiring authority from the now-independent personnel department to the Mayor’s Office. As the U-T noted, the termination followed a city audit that spotlighted the city’s slow hiring process but found most delays were tied to individual departments other than city personnel staff. We’ve previously reported on the city’s hiring struggles – and their impacts on city services.

San Diego Unified’s Enrollment Woes Continue 

Students enter Hoover High School in City Heights on Nov. 29, 2022.
Students enter Hoover High School in City Heights on Nov. 29, 2022. / File photo by Ariana Drehsler

Last year, our Jakob McWhinney revealed that an influx of 4-year-olds enrolling in universal transitional kindergarten at San Diego Unified School District hid ongoing enrollment decline in nearly all grades. 

Refresher: When California launched universal transitional kindergarten, the school district jumped at the opportunity. It opened up its classrooms to all 4-year-olds in its boundaries as a way to get kids to stick around. San Diego Unified, like many districts, has seen significant enrollment drops over the past decade. The pandemic certainly didn’t help, as we reported. 

Now, the Union Tribune reports that while universal transitional kindergarten is continuing to blunt enrollment decline, it’s still not stopping it completely.

What’s at stake: These declines affect school districts’ bottom line. Districts are funded based on average daily attendance, but enrollment numbers impact how many kids attend school. San Diego Unified is already projecting big budget deficits in the hundreds of millions in future years. But between the twin crises of chronic absenteeism and enrollment decline, the financial pain may continue to compound.

Here’s how San Diego Unified Board Member Cody Petterson described the situation to the U-T: “This is a district bleeding out, so how we stop the bleeding is fundamental to our viability as an organization and our continued ability to serve the families.” 

Follow McWhinney’s education coverage by subscribing to The Learning Curve.

In Other News 

  • NBC 7 reports that the city of San Diego is “one bad rainstorm away from disastrous flooding” because of its deteriorating storm system. The station’s news crew got a tour of one pump station in Pacific Beach that broke last September.  Watch the full report here. 
  • San Diegans have increasingly migrated south in search of cheaper housing. But this influx has pushed rents in Tijuana up. KPBS reports that rents in Tijuana increased by more than 63 percent from 2016-2022. In that same time period rents in San Diego increased by 30 percent. 
  • Your dose of creepy today: There are big spiders all over San Diego. This year’s rainy season has created the perfect home for orb weaver spiders. (NBC 7) 
  • Big plans for railroad tracks. The San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, has released a report that offers a look at how it could move the tracks from the Del Mar Bluffs. (Fox 5) 
  • CBS 8 checked in with a 62-year-old homeless man who sought shelter five days in a row without success. The man’s experience isn’t unique, as our reporting has shown. 

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Jakob McWhinney and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.