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San Diego County officials, immigration advocates call for federal help with anticipated migrant surge

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Posted at 7:24 AM, May 05, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- As waves of migrants gather at the U.S.-Mexico border in anticipation of Title 42 expiring next week, San Diego County officials and immigration advocates are asking for more help from the federal government to handle the anticipated influx.

"People are fleeing for their lives. They need to be processed in a way that assures asylum is restored and that it's respected," said Pedro Rios, director of the American Friends Service Committee.

Rios’ organization is one of several immigration advocacy groups helping migrants at the border in southern San Diego.

"Providing food and providing water, as well as, talking to the migrants so that we have a better sense of what they've been experiencing," Rios said.

President Biden is expected to send 1,500 additional troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in anticipation of a large wave of migrants.

The troops will perform administrative duties and are not there as law enforcement.

Still, Rios said the federal government needs to place more resources in border communities and collaborate with organizations working directly with migrants.

"By militarizing the border, that's not the solution. We need humanitarian responses," he said.

"We may have as many as a thousand people a week being dropped off in my district to fend for themselves from immigration," said San Diego County Supervisor Joel Anderson.

Anderson represents District 2, which includes East County. He said the county is looking at more than $5 million to be able to address the potential migrant surge.

He sent a letter to Biden, asking for funding to help with adequate shelters and to deploy FEMA to help with intake.

"We're not making the statement on whether this is good policy or bad policy, we're trying to just deal with it in our community so that our parks, our transportation centers, aren't just overwhelmed with people that need housing," Anderson said.

Anderson is also calling on the president to provide the direction necessary to stop the “street releases” of migrants dropped off by U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel at local transit stations.

"Last fall, San Diego’s migrant shelters reached capacity, and between 800 and 1,000 asylum seekers were released by the federal government at San Diego transit centers throughout the County – with no shelter or services," the press release said.