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Reaction: County of San Diego sues federal agency chiefs over asylum seeker care

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Posted at 6:02 PM, Apr 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-04 20:41:25-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego County Supervisors and the charity organization responsible for running a shelter for asylum seekers responded Wednesday to the county’s lawsuit against the heads of government agencies.

The County of San Diego filed the lawsuit Wednesday against Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Ronald D. Vitiello, Immigrant and Customs Enforcement Executive Associate Director Matthew T. Albence, Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Kevin K. McAleenan, and Chief of Border Patrol Carla L. Provost.

The suit claims the end of the “Safe Release” program, which provided migrants with aid needed to leave San Diego County, was unlawful. The County of San Diego wants to reinstate the policy, which ended last fall, and be reimbursed for the cost of supporting asylum seekers in the following months.

RELATED: County of San Diego sues chiefs of Homeland Security, Border Patrol, ICE and CBP over asylum seekers

“The federal government’s negligent approach to those seeking asylum is taking a huge toll on San Diego County taxpayers. The county has already spent over $1.3 million to address health and safety issues at the asylum shelter. That figure is ballooning by the day,” said County Supervisor Dianne Jacob. “We are asking the court to require the feds to reinstate the Safe Release program and not leave local governments, non-profits and taxpayers holding the bag. This lawsuit isn’t about broad immigration issues or border security.”

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher also addressed the issue.

“Donald Trump’s inhumane immigration policies are wrong. His failure does not remove our obligation to do the right thing to help families legally seeking asylum in the United States. I am proud our County is stepping-up to take on Trump. I hope other jurisdictions will join us in this lawsuit,” Fletcher said in a statement.

RELATED: County's projected costs of San Diego shelter for asylum-seekers top $1.3 million

The San Diego Rapid Response Network commended the County Supervisors for “holding the federal administration accountable for its anti-immigrant policies and tactics.”

SDRRN has helped more than 11,000 migrants in the last five months, the agency said.

“Together, we can ensure that no one stands alone in our community,” said SDRNN officials.

The charity requested donations for its services at By Wednesday night, it had received almost $193,000 of its $250,000 goal.