Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

The broken immigration process

Supervisor Jim Desmond

5th District

On a cool Sunday morning, border patrol vans pull into the Oceanside Transit Center releasing approximately 30 migrants from countries including Columbia, Pakistan, and China. The first question asked by most migrants is, “Where am I?” That's just the tip of the iceberg for how the federal government has set these migrants and San Diego County up for failure.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas has openly admitted the United States immigration process is 'completely broken.' As direct proof of this broken system is the federal government's lack of ability to manage migrants, with more than 43,000 being dropped in San Diego County over the last two months.

Last week, NBC 7 San Diego shared the story of Jesus Escalante, who "left his home country in search of a better life in the U.S." Escalante said, "I spent more than a week looking for a place to sleep and was unable to find shelter space anywhere." The federal government is adding to our homeless numbers where, due to state policies, we already have over 10,000 people living on our streets.

This comes the same day Fox 5 San Diego reported over 308 people sleeping in the San Diego International Airport on one night.

Currently, non-profits and advocacy groups are at capacity, sheltering and caring for the most vulnerable migrants including the elderly, the sick, and women with children. Homelessness is the number one issue, and now shelter beds are limited due to the migrant surge, and many more San Diegans are forced to the streets.

From San Diego to Texas, the numbers speak for themselves. In September, there were 269,735 migrant encounters at the southern border, making it the highest single month ever recorded. For the fiscal year 2023, Border Patrols have reported 2.47 million encounters, marking the highest annual total ever recorded in a single year.

In addition to these encounters, there have been over 1.6 million "known gotaways" at the southern border in the last five years. Known gotaways are people seen or detected by Border Patrol agents but not apprehended.

The asylum-seeking process was designed for people fleeing their home country seeking protection from persecution and serious human rights violations. But now it includes economic reasons. Instead of evading border patrol agents, migrants are turning themselves in, knowing that Border Patrol will drop them off at the local resource center being paid for with local, not federal, San Diego County tax dollars.

The Governors of Texas and Florida were criticized when they bussed hundreds of migrants out of their home states to other cities across America. But this is exactly what the Federal Government is doing with migrants in San Diego County and other border communities.

At the cost of thousands of local dollars each day, asylum seekers are dropped at resource centers, with non-profit groups assisting them with travel arrangements to a sponsor somewhere in the country. At the same time, they await their court date, which can be years later.

Local dollars should be spent on local issues, including homelessness, deteriorating infrastructure, housing, and mental health, which demand our immediate attention and resources. These are issues that directly impact the lives of San Diego County residents, and they should remain the focus of county tax dollars. The decision to use County funds for non-U.S. Citizens and federal immigration issues with no end in sight is a recipe for disaster.

I don't blame the migrants for seeking a better way of life. I would do the same. We are a proud country of immigrants. But our current immigration system is unsafe, inhumane, overwhelmed, and, at best, chaotic.

Our immigration process is broken. We should hit reset and close the border to new immigrants until we fix our immigration system with a safe, orderly, and humane process for all.


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