SAN DIEGO -- A local human-rights organization announced a fundraising effort Monday to support shelter and legal assistance for migrant families seeking asylum in the United States.
According to the San Diego Rapid Response Network, a coalition of social service organizations in and around San Diego, federal immigration authorities have been allowing 50 to 70 asylum-seeking migrants into the area each day since Oct. 26. However, the migrants are often left homeless and without necessary resources like money, food and medical care.
With many asylum-seekers already in the country, and thousands more waiting in Tijuana to have their claims processed, the coalition announced a GoFundMe campaign to help asylum-seekers get on their feet. The campaign will fund necessities like bedding, portable showers and food, organizers said.
"These families have fled violence, suffering and persecution in their home countries," according to the Rapid Response Network. "They have braved the elements and endured many hardships on a long and dangerous journey to the United States. Like many of us, they have come here by whatever means possible to give their families a better life."
San Diego businesses and the Casa Cornelia Law Center announced their support for the campaign after the Rapid Response Network made its announcement.
"As a strong business community that depends on immigrants for our economic health, we know that immigrants give more than they take," said Business for Good San Diego Executive Director Karim Bouris. "Across San Diego County, immigrants contribute almost $17 billion in spending power and over $6 billion in taxes paid by way of more than 65,000 entrepreneurs. This is why we, as a business community, must rise to the challenge to extend a welcoming hand to those who seek asylum to flee horrific human rights conditions."
The Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego has also started a funding pool to support cross-country travel for migrants who may have family across the United States.
The need for supportive services for asylum-seekers has been heightened in San Diego due to the thousands of Central American migrants who are part of a caravan heading for and waiting at the U.S.-Mexico border. According to immigration officials, some migrants could wait up to six months for their asylum claims to be heard. In total, some 10,000 migrants could soon be waiting in Tijuana, and may not have any immediate resources once their claims are processed and they enter the country.
"Since Nov. 3, we have worked with 20 to 30 families per night who are seeking the legal representation to which they have a right," said Casa Cornelia Law Center Executive Director Carmen Chavez. "We are committed to offering free legal services to all victims of human rights violations, and we know that resources will be stretched during this crucial time. ... We are appreciative of the support of the San Diego community, which allows this work to happen."
San Diego residents can donate to the GoFundMe campaign, monitored by coalition member Jewish Family Service of San Diego, at gofundme.com/migrantreliefsd. The Rapid Response Network also fields calls for immigration assistance at its 24-hour hotline, (619) 536-0823. As of early Monday afternoon, the coalition had raised $8,393 of its $150,000 goal.