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San Diego County leaders address use of convention center as migrant shelter

Posted at 12:29 PM, Mar 27, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Regional leaders addressed the use of the San Diego Convention Center as a temporary shelter for unaccompanied migrants.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria along with Representatives Scott Peters, Juan Vargas, Mike Levin, Sarah Jacobs, and County Supervisor Nora Vargas spoke at the event after giving a partial tour of the facility.

Gloria said the facility will exclusively house females between the ages of 13 and 17. The migrants will remain at the facility through mid-July.

The first 500 young women are set to arrive at the convention center Saturday night. Another 250 are expected to arrive Monday.

The facility will be able to house up to 1,450 people at a time, and most young women will stay between 30 and 35 days each.

Watch the entire news conference below:

According to the city, the shelter will be operated by the US Department of Health and Human Services. The migrant children will be provided with case management, medical and behavioral healthcare, educational and recreational activities, food, hygiene, and legal assistance.

This is the first emergency influx site in California. A similar shelter exists in Texas, and San Diego leaders have been communicating with them to learn lessons on how to operate a shelter like this.

The use of the convention center as a shelter comes as US Customs and Border Protection deals with overcrowded facilities as more migrants arrive in Texas. Many of the teens have been held at detention centers longer than legally allowed.

According to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, services at the convention center will be provided through a combination of federal teams and contractors. All money spent to prepare and operate the shelter will be reimbursed by the federal government.

Leaders said if people want to help the teens, they can go to the South Bay Community Services Website to donate. Donors are asked to specify that the funds are for the migrant teens in San Diego, and that money will be given to the girls directly.

The ORR says the teens will be held at the site to be safely processed and cared for before being released to a sponsor.

If the teens don’t have a family member or sponsor here, they could be transferred to an ORR shelter for longer-term care, the agency said.

The shelter is only temporary and will wrap up in mid-July in preparation for events scheduled for August at the convention center.

"What we know right now is there is no use for this facility, and this is a public asset. People of the city own it. it could sit here vacant doing nothing or it could do something on behalf of thousands of kids who need it," said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.