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Local nonprofits say families are being separated at US-Mexico border

Posted at 7:41 AM, Sep 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-28 10:41:51-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The street releases of asylum seekers continue in San Diego, but now some local nonprofits say they're facing a new challenge.

Staff members at several nonprofits have noted families are being separated at some point during processing, meaning they're then released at different locations.

According to San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond, about 8,500 asylum seekers have been released in San Diego in the last two weeks.

But according to some nonprofit groups, not all are being released together and some reportedly dropped off hours away.

Varinda Missett, the Chief Development Officer for Interfaith Community Services, said splitting families has made getting the migrants to the sponsor family more difficult.

"It really added a layer of, just, complexity and heartbreak to this already out-of-control situation,” said Missett.

Missett said one woman Interfaith helped was released without her husband, and he was eventually found hours away in a shelter in San Marino.

Local nonprofits said they’re now using a WhatsApp texting group to communicate with each other at the different drop-off locations.

Al Otro Lado is another local group that said they are dealing with families that have been separated.

Erika Pinheiro, the executive director for the group, said their organization has created a Google document for separated migrants to fill out. Attorneys with Al Otro Lado then make formal inquiries with Department of Homeland Security to try to find information about the missing relative.

“Very chaotic situation, we are not able to identify every single family that’s been separated, but we are able to identify at least close to 100,” said Pinheiro.

Al Otro Lado is now calling for volunteers at the drop-off locations, to help, not only with the forms but with other ways to search for those that are missing. Interested volunteers can email

ABC 10News did reach out to Customs and Border Protection, and a spokesperson said that they were looking into the claims and would get provide a response as soon as they had information.