San Diego leaders tout success of migrant shelter with 2,408 children reunited with family

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SAN DIEGO — City leaders touted the success of the migrant shelter at the San Diego Convention Center Thursday, saying it served more than 2,400 children before its closure this month.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria joined county and state leaders Thursday morning to highlight the operation that began in late March. The emergency COVID-19 shelter serving the homeless was closing at the convention center and San Diego was asked to help house unaccompanied minors, leading to the establishment of a federally-controlled emergency intake site.

Gloria said San Diego quickly answered the call, and 2,408 children were reunited with their families in the U.S. after staying at the convention center shelter from March to July. Children received case management, medical care, educational programs, legal assistance and enrichment activities.

Gloria said he is incredibly proud of what San Diego did for the thousands of migrant children.

“I am filled with gratitude for the hundreds of people who responded with their expertise and their unwavering dedication to doing what was needed for these kids,” Gloria said.

The educational program in San Diego became a model for similar emergency intake sites across the country, according to Gloria. He was joined by San Diego County Supervisor Chair Nathan Fletcher, who thanked congressional leaders for their support of the program at the convention center.

“For everyone who was a part of this, we are eternally grateful for everything,” Fletcher said.

The operation was led by Pete Weldy, regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In appreciation of his leadership, Gloria proclaimed July 15, 2021, “Pete Weldy Day in the City of San Diego.”

The convention center is now gearing up for a return to normalcy after the 2,400 unaccompanied migrant girls left the emergency shelter by July 1. Staff is planning for a more conventional year with 30 events already set for 2021. The first event — SPIE Optics and Photonics 2021 — kicks off Aug. 1.

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