SAN DIEGO – The panicked relay of telephone calls began when volunteers found out late Saturday that immigration officials would be releasing two more busloads of families before the night was over.
Volunteers from the San Diego Rapid Response Network, a collective initially organized to respond to interior immigration enforcement activity, dropped what they were doing and raced to the Greyhound bus station in San Ysidro. The first bus of about 40 people, made up of families seeking asylum from countries like Honduras and Guatemala, was supposed to arrive around 6 p.m., they were told.
The families released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement have come to San Diego either through the asylum line at San Ysidro port of entry or by going over the border barrier and asking the agents that caught them for asylum. They spend several days in holding cells at the port of entry or border patrol stations while they’re processed, fitted with ankle monitors and then released with orders to appear in immigration court.
The volunteers brought blankets in case the new families needed to stay the night. It’s not the first time this week volunteers haven’t known where they were going to put everyone, said Kevin Malone, executive director of the San Diego Organizing Project.
“Every day it looks like we may have to leave people on the street,” Malone said. “We’ve been patching this thing together minute by minute. Everyone is really stretched.