Since Oct. 25, about 1,700 migrants have passed through the network’s emergency shelters…

San Diego Charities Cannot House Any More Asylum-Seeking Aliens

(Gustavo Solis, The San Diego Union-Tribune) The federal government is dropping off migrant families at Greyhound bus stations throughout San Diego, and local humanitarian organizations don’t have enough space or resources to care for them.

The San Diego Rapid Response Network — a coalition of human rights, service and faith-based organizations — has asked local and regional representatives to help them secure a permanent shelter for the families while calling attention to a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising $150,000. The families are seeking asylum in the U.S.

“We can no longer do it alone,” said Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties.

The campaign, which started Nov. 15, has raised close to $95,000.

Since Oct. 25, about 1,700 migrants have passed through the network’s emergency shelters. Because the coalition doesn’t have a permanent location, the shelter has had to move five times in the past six weeks.

The asylum seekers are not from the Central American migrant caravans that began arriving in Tijuana in November.

The emergency shelter gives families a place to stay, usually for about 48 hours, while they coordinate travel and living arrangements with relatives. It costs about $350,000 a month to maintain, Chavez-Peterson said.

The Rapid Response Network set up the emergency shelter when the federal government announced the end of its Safe Release program, which gave migrant families seeking asylum a couple of days to find friends or relatives in the U.S. and make arrangements to join them.

On the night of Oct. 25, a person called the Rapid Response Network’s 24-hour hotline to report seeing a Department of Homeland Security van drop off about 30 migrants at a Greyhound bus station in downtown San Diego, Chavez-Peterson said.

Since then, about 200 volunteers spent two weeks visiting Greyhound stations in El Cajon, San Diego and San Ysidro to pick up more asylum-seeking families. Four weeks ago, the federal government began coordinating drop-off schedules with the coalition.

If government or civil leaders don’t step up to help fund the coalition, hundreds of migrant families will have nowhere to go, Chavez-Peterson said.

“If the organizations hadn’t stepped in we would’ve had 1,700 people out in the streets of San Diego in the last six weeks,” she said.

©2018 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.