SAN DIEGO (KGTV)- The San Diego Convention Center will initially be able to accommodate up to 1,400 migrant children.
On Friday, a spokesperson for Supervisor Nathan Fletcher’s office said some of those children are expected to start arriving over the weekend.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s office said more information would be available on Saturday.
The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego says they've been tapped to help provide religious service to the children who may need or want it.
Bishop Susan Brown Snook told ABC 10News she was told the convention center is preparing to receive around 500 migrant girls, ages 13 to 17. Those girls could arrive as early as Saturday, says Bishop Snook. The bishop says more migrants are expected to arrive early next week.
According to the diocese, they are currently working with other religious leaders to offer their services. They are in need of bilingual volunteers willing to help. Bishop Snook says they'll likely start with worship services and then expand to chaplaincy-type services. People interested in volunteering can email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This comes as U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been dealing with overcrowding at facilities as more migrants arrive in Texas. Many children have been kept in detention centers longer than legally allowed.
Thursday, at a press conference, President Joe Biden, who has been criticized for his administration’s handling of the situation at the border, said, “What we’re doing now is attempting to rebuild the situation to accommodate what is happening today.”
A spokesperson for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), who will care for the minors once they arrive, sent the following statement:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) aggressively works with its interagency partners to ensure that unaccompanied migrant children (UC) are safe and unified with family members or other suitable sponsors as quickly and safely as possible. To support this effort, HHS has selected, with the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the San Diego Convention Center, 111 West Harbor Drive San Diego, California, as an Emergency Intake Site (EIS) with the capacity to initially accommodate up to 1,400 children.
Supervisor Fletcher said he and Mayor Gloria received the call to help on Saturday morning.
“We have told the federal government we have until July 1st where this will be available. There’s no meetings or conventions scheduled, and so it is a way to utilize the space while it’s open and provide a humanitarian response to these children,” Fletcher said in an interview with ABC 10News on Monday. “I’ve been told that 90 percent of these children have a family member or sponsor here in the United States, so it’s a matter of safely processing them, connecting them, and moving them.”
According to the ORR, the temporary site would provide comfortable sleeping quarters, meals, toiletries, laundry, access to medical services, and COVID-19 health screening.
Services will be provided through a combination of contractors and federal teams.
The children would be held at the site to be safely processed, cared for, and then released to a sponsor. If they do not have a family member or sponsor here, they could be transferred to an ORR shelter for longer-term care, according to the ORR.
HHS has also increased bed capacity at several Emergency Intake Sites and Influx Care Facilities across Texas.