Border Patrol vehicle
A Border Patrol agent monitors the U.S.-Mexico border. Photo by Chris Stone

The Border Patrol continues to drop off asylum seekers at transit centers around the county because continuing flight delays have left San Diego’s nonprofit shelter operation at full capacity.

The San Diego Rapid Response Network said Tuesday it is welcoming 300 asylum seekers daily, but only has room for “the most vulnerable” released by the Border Patrol.

“Due to the extreme weather conditions impacting outbound travel, our resources and current infrastructure are stretched to capacity each night,” said network, which is composed of Jewish Family Service of San Diego, Catholic Charities and the ACLU.

The nonprofits provide food, clothing and medical attention, then typically send migrants to family or friends elsewhere in the United States within a few days.

All of the migrants processed are awaiting their day in immigration court, where a judge will rule on whether they receive asylum or have to leave the country.

The lack of shelter space has been exacerbated by the operational meltdown of Southwest Airlines, which accounts for most flights out of San Diego.

County Supervisor Jim Desmond said he has been told that 1,072 migrants have been released at transit centers over the past four days. He called the situation “heartbreaking” for “people who are trying to better their lives” by seeking asylum.

“Dropping migrants seeking asylum at our transit centers without critical resources to manage them puts the asylum seekers at risk, and it places the people of this region at risk,” he said, calling on the federal government to “fund and operate temporary shelters or housing, on federal properties.”


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Ellen Bullock