SAN DIEGO (KGTV)-- More than 200 additional unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the United States are now in San Diego. They were transported to the San Diego Convention Center Friday to help alleviate overcrowded Customs and Border Protection facilities in the southwest.
Another plane believed to be carrying children seeking asylum touched down at San Diego International Airport Friday evening. It was the second of two flights scheduled Friday, bringing a total of 222 children ages 5 to 12 to the San Diego Convention Center's Emergency Intake Site, HHS official, Carol Fiertz told ABC 10News.
"Federal Health and Human Services asked for our cooperation," San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher said. "They have some very young children, and they said our Convention Center is set up as the best location for them, so they said, 'Hey can we move some of the older to a facility for older kids and bring some of the younger here?', and we're happy to accommodate their request."
Fletcher just toured the facility. He said 300 teenage girls who tested negative for COVID-19 were transferred out of the Convention Center Thursday night, giving room for this next group of kids to arrive. HHS officials said the girls were flown to Fort Bliss in Texas. There, Office of Refugee Resettlement officials will continue their casework.
"More than 90% of them have family members here in the United States," Fletcher said. "You just have to make sure you get it right and verify. So it takes a bit to do, but that is the goal, to reunite them with their families."
HHS said there are now around 1,400 children housed at the Convention Center, just shy of the 1 thousand 450 maximum capacity.
According to HHS, CDC officials are conducting daily health screenings and testing the children for COVID-19 every three days. Critics of these shelters said the cost of caring for these migrant children is too much. The Associated Press reported it averages to about $23,000 per month per child. But supporters say it's worth it.
"The fact that you would spend a few million dollars to provide care for people who have a legal right to be here seems like an appropriate expense," Fletcher said.
The Convention Center will operate as an Emergency Intake Facility until July 15, 2021.