In an effort to increase a “coordinated action to address the humanitarian crisis at the San Diego-Tijuana border,” today Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) has called on several officials in Tijuana and San Diego to help find a solution to the enormous influx in migrants that the region has recently absorbed.
Atkins, the San Diego native said, “I am watching with growing concern as thousands of migrants are released into the San Diego community in the middle of the night without so much as a meal to sustain them for one evening.” She also added, “clearly, the federal government has abandoned all responsibility on this matter, and it is incumbent upon us to step in and find a solution.”
While the standard procedure for the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is to arrest and detain illegal immigrants when crossing the border, if the subject isn’t a repeat offender or criminal, the departments are by law ordered to let them go with the hopes that the individual will return for a court date or asylum rendering.
Despite this process, Atkins claims ICE has been “releasing migrants into the San Diego community without the proper supports they need.” Furthermore, the lawmaker has criticized the department for not aiding immigrants in finding shelter or connecting them to family members during their release period.
“Relying on non-profit social service agencies to shoulder this entire responsibility and without the resources to do so is not a process that can be sustained indefinitely,” said Atkins. “There is no excuse for inaction, it is the government’s responsibility to step in and solve this potential crisis.”
To paint a picture of the current migrant living situation in San Diego, Atkins referenced 2016’s hepatitis A outbreak that killed 20 and sickened nearly 600. An end to that outbreak was only declared earlier this year after San Diego County spent over $12.5 million responding to the public health crisis.
Finally Atkins called on federal officials to help provide services and funding saying “I call on Congress and the federal administration to find a coherent, long-term solution to ensure migrants can exercise their right to seek asylum in a safe and orderly way, in accordance with U.S. and international law.”
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