SAN DIEGO — San Diego County is suing the Trump administration over its handling of asylum-seeking families, saying the federal government does not do enough to help local officials care for asylum-seekers released into their region.
The lawsuit was officially filed Wednesday and claims the county is being harmed by a “sudden and unlawful change in policy” regarding the release of asylum seekers into the US while they await federal hearings.
That change refers primarily to the end of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s “Safe Release” program, which had provided federal resources to migrants seeking food and shelter once they are released in a US border region, such as San Diego.
The program was discontinued in October 2018, because ICE said they were overwhelmed by the number of migrants they had to process. Local governments and nonprofit groups have stepped up in San Diego to provide the resources — and are left footing the bill, the county says.
When the Board of Supervisors voted in favor of the lawsuit in February, officials said the cost of caring for asylum-seekers had reached $1.1 million. Supervisor Dianne Jacobs said Wednesday that figure has increased even further in the time since they reached their decision.
“The federal government’s negligent approach to those seeking asylum is taking a huge toll on San Diego County taxpayers,” Jacobs said in a statement. “The county has already spent over $1.3 million to address health and safety issues at the asylum shelter. That figure is ballooning by the day.”
Jacobs said the county is asking a court to require the federal government reinstate the Safe Release program. The lawsuit names the heads of ICE, Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol.