SAN DIEGO — With just three of four members voting, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors agreed to allocate $3 million toward services to help migrants and asylum seekers in the region.
The measure, which was proposed by Board Chair Nora Vargas, aims to support local non-governmental groups working to support migrants by providing them with basic services, Wi-Fi, food and toiletries. These groups also help asylum seekers by helping them contact sponsors or family members in the U.S., as well as arrange airline or bus tickets to their final destination.
“This is a federal government issue, but in the end the people are here and it impacts our local communities,” Vargas said. “This money is supplemental funding for an NGO that is going to be able to support the other NGOs that are doing this work”
Calling it a humanitarian crisis, Vargas says the funds for these providers is a one-time allocation to support these organizations for the next three months while the Board of Supervisors looks to secure federal funding. It will not impact any other local services, she added.
It comes at a time when Border Patrol agents have continued dropping off anywhere from six to 800 migrants each day at various southeastern San Diego transit stations after they go through processing. These drop offs have inundated local service providers, stretching their financial resources thin.
“The number of asylum-seekers continues to increase and the street releases we are opposed to,” Vargas said.
The board’s vote followed an hour of public comment. Speakers who work directly with migrants present at the meeting urged the board to do more.
“There are still volunteers at the border wall working — the open-air detention facilities that need the county’s support … the conditions at the open-air detention facilities are more dire and should be included in the scope of the county’s response,” said one speaker during public comment.
Those opposed argued that the county’s tax dollars could be better spent.
“For now, it’s $3 million. Then when that runs out, it’s another $3 million, and more and more,” another said. “Where does it end if we keep allowing (migrants) into our country state and city.”
Supervisor Jim Desmond was not in session, but issued a statement expressing his disappointment in the vote to approve the funds.
“Our community faces challenges such as homelessness, deteriorating roads and mental health crises that demand immediate attention and resources,” he said.