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California official criticizes 'concierge service' for migrants

The lone dissenter on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors says more than $19 million in federal funding won't help the migrant “epicenter” in the long run.

Supervisor Jim Desmond, a frequent critic of San Diego's immigration policies, voted against promoting a long-term plan for a transit center for migrants and asylum seekers during Tuesday's board meeting. The approved dollars will provide housing, food, transportation, emergency medical care, personal hygiene supplies and labor to support migrants recently released from federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody.

The funding, approved by a 4-1 vote, comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Shelter and Services Program (SSP). After the board approved $3 million each in October and December to open a temporary migrant center, the funds dried up and the board had to approve another plan in February to advance a more viable solution.

“The recent allocation of $19 million in federal dollars will not solve the crisis because the money will not be used to protect the border, but will only provide more concierge services to get migrants to their destinations in the United States.” Desmond, a Republican, said Newsweek. “We have passed laws, but the federal government is currently not complying with them.”

Asylum seekers wait in line to be processed by Border Patrol at a temporary camp near the U.S.-Mexico border east of Jacumba, San Diego County, California, on Jan. 2, 2024. On April 30, 2024…


GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images

Since Oct. 1, the San Diego Border Sector has apprehended 214,855 people from more than 75 countries, he said.

According to Patricia McGurk-Daniel, chief of the Border Patrol's San Diego Sector, there were more than 9,000 last week alone. She wrote on April 24th on XFormerly Twitter, between April 17 and 23, more than 9,500 arrests included 218 unaccompanied minors encountered, 22 rescue operations and 35 prohibited people smuggling events.

During this period, law enforcement seized 154 pounds of cocaine, 238 pounds of methamphetamine, 36.8 pounds of fentanyl, 22 contraband vehicles and seven firearms.

Asked what he would prefer the federal funds to be used for instead of long-term shelter and asylum resources, he said he would prefer the money to go toward security — namely more enforcement and agents on the ground.

“This money just allows San Diego to process more people coming into the country and send them elsewhere in the country,” Desmond said. “We have already seen that the millions spent on this problem have resulted in more people coming into the country. We roll out the red carpet with taxpayer money.”

California's sanctuary status makes matters worse, he added, claiming it has prevented law enforcement from proactively managing the migrant crisis – including necessary coordination with federal immigration authorities during border violation incidents.

But the plan presented Tuesday “is critical to providing dignified and humane assistance, including vital resources such as food, clothing and critical information, to get people safely to their intended destination,” said Chief Executive Nora Vargas.

“Together we are working to address the global humanitarian crisis at our border by speeding up the asylum process, reducing the number of street releases and ensuring that asylum seekers in search of safety and a better future are treated with the utmost dignity,” Vargas said in a letter, according to a statement.

Supervisor Joel Anderson, who supported the proposal along with Vargas, reportedly said there have been 135,000 migrant street releases in the San Diego area since last September. More than 80,000 people were processed, with around 99 percent leaving the area to go to other places.

The funding is “a step in the right direction” and will minimize exploitation and homelessness of migrants, Anderson said.

Newsweek emailed Vargas and Anderson for comment.

A San Diego resident who only identified herself as Pam accused board members supporting migrant resources of encouraging a problem exacerbated by the Biden administration – which does not lead to cultural diversity but opens the door for migrants to ” to commit “shameful” acts.

Nongovernmental organizations are “drooling” for federal funding that comes from immigration policy, she added.

“This situation is not going to end well,” Pam said from the podium. “This is madness and suicide for America, but that's the goal, isn't it? Be ashamed of your complicity. This is despicable and evil.”

Other residents who spoke thanked the board for their efforts. One said she was “proud and honored” that the city’s cultural roots and humanitarian efforts are not being left behind.