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Influx of migrants arrive in San Diego County

Posted at 6:49 AM, Apr 30, 2024

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Border Patrol data shows an influx of migrants are arriving in San Diego County.

Those greeting the migrants when they arrive at the U.S. southern border and when they are released from Border Patrol custody are volunteers.

Volunteer Ruth Mendez has given her time to help guide migrants to the next destination moments after they've been released on the street by Border Patrol.

"People are arriving here from all around the world," Mendez said. "I've been catching catchphrases from different places. I've been catching how to say hi in India when people are coming from India."

Mendez is often the first friendly face to make a difference in migrants' lives. They might not know it, but they are leaving their mark on her.

She said she goes home feeling eternally lucky to be able to return to a home and a family.

"We have people waiting right now, for example, since Thursday. Since Thursday morning, they have been waiting for family members to be released. They are quite literally stranded here," Mendez said.

She started volunteering at the Iris Avenue Transit Center last September before the migrant welcome center opened and street releases stopped.

Then, she returned in February when the center closed and street releases began again.

"We've definitely helped more than 33,000 people here. People have been getting dropped off from Border Patrol stations and just released to San Diego with no plans- being very disoriented," said Mendez.

The number of migrants released to the transit hub could increase.

According to Customs and Border Protection, between February and March, the number of migrants arriving jumped 7% from 31,500 to 33,784.

On Friday alone, Border Patrol agents apprehended 2,000 migrants.

A source at the Border Patrol Union told ABC 10News that processing centers were well over capacity this past weekend, and it's caused about 1,600 migrants to be released to the trolley station.

Mendez said her biggest fear is that volunteers acting as boots on the ground won't get the support they need.

"We are looking at the local and federal governments to really step in. I know new funding has been allocated," she said.

San Diego County was recently given $19 million from the federal government for help. The county plans to use the money for a long-term migrant transfer site and shelter.

In the meantime, volunteers will continue to show up at the trolley station.

"So, we just want to emphasize the need to have the nonprofits and the community members who are putting work every single day to have them have a seat at the table and have them have a say in how those funds will be disbursed," she said.

A CBP spokesperson said the agency is leveraging all available resources and continues to surge personnel transportation and more to the most active parts of the San Diego border.