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2,000 migrants dropped off in San Diego County this week, county supervisor says

292 migrants were dropped off at the Iris Transit Center Sunday morning.
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Posted at 4:38 PM, Sep 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-17 21:36:48-04

SAN YSIDRO, Calif. (KGTV) — More migrants are being dropped off at transit centers in San Diego County.

A spokesperson for San Diego County District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond told ABC 10News more than 2,000 migrants have been dropped off in the county this week.

At the Iris Transit Center, migrants are getting their first taste of the United States. The spokesperson said 292 migrants were dropped off there by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Sunday Morning alone.

"I have come to the land of safety and freedom," migrant Mohamed Sweilem told ABC 10 News through a translation app. Sweilem is in the U.S. from Mauritania, a country in northwest Africa.

RELATED: Border Patrol agents begin street releases of migrants in San Diego County

Sweilem was excited to talk with ABC 10News, in his native Arabic.

"I have been gone for a month or more since my approach," he said, adding he was coming from immigration detention.

Local migrant shelters say they are at capacity, which has triggered the street releases in the county.

But Sweilem doesn't plan to be in San Diego County much longer. He's headed to New York, where he says he has family.

"The most important thing is to reach the dream, which is to reach the United States," he said. "I was oppressed in my country."

"One of the best moments we see is when they're finally able to tell their family that they're here," Lindsay Toczylowski, an immigration attorney, said.

Toczylowski is also the director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center. Her group is helping migrants like Sweilem, providing food, water, phone chargers, and legal advice, while helping the migrants navigate their way.

"It's incredibly diverse, we're utilizing translators, and there are people from all over the world," she says. "These are refugees. These are people who are coming to seek refuge in the United States and the countries that they are from reflect many of the conflicts going on around the world.

Right now, it's unknown how long the situation will last. Sweilem is thankful for volunteers helping get him to the airport, and eventually New York.

"These people are good people, and they provided us with all means and all necessary services. Thank you. Thank you a thousand times, thank you," he said.

Toczylowski said they'll continue to try to help.

"These street releases are challenging, and certainly for the people who are being released. It's a big challenge for them and a challenge for those of us who are serving them," she said.

Some though are expressing concern about the influx of migrants, including local officials.

In a post on X Sunday, Desmond wrote, "2,000 migrants from around the world have been dumped in San Diego County in four days. The Biden Admin is rolling out the red carpet for this chaos, showing zero concern for our region's resources."

El Cajon mayor Bill Wells echoed the same message on X.

"This is a disaster. Every emergency room is at capacity in SD County. Our homeless shelters are full. Resources are stretched thin," he wrote.

RELATED: Migrants appear confused, lost after being released onto San Diego streets