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Wet and cold weather presents new danger for migrants crossing into San Diego County

Posted at 7:34 AM, Nov 14, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The San Diego stretch along the U.S.-Mexico border is unique because it begins in the ocean and stretches all the way to the desert.

The farther east you drive along the stretch, the bumpier it gets.

Take Jacumba Hot Springs for example. The small mountain community in the far East County has watched as hundreds of migrants have camped out, waiting to be processed by Border Patrol agents.

"In Jacumba, it's been now close to two months, exactly, that hundreds of people have been in open-air encampments," said Jacqueline Arellano, an immigration advocate with Border Kindness.

Arellano has helped the migrants by feeding, clothing and treating them through the barrier.

RELATED: Hundreds of migrants continue arriving in Jacumba, aid organizations plead for help

"They have no coverage. They have no shelter beyond makeshift structures that are constructed through poles and tarps that have been donated, tents, and people are really just sleeping on the ground with maybe a blanket over them," she said.

San Diego sector Border Patrol Chief Patricia McGurk-Daniel tells ABC 10News that open-air detention sites don't exist and said it can take days to pick up migrants because of the large number arriving at once and the rugged terrain.

With cold and wet weather on the way, Arellano said she is concerned about the migrants' well-being. She fears migrants will fall ill with hypothermia or even die at the sites.

"We're planning on being there to help. We've already ordered hundreds and hundreds of ponchos. We will be providing supplies to serve as a response," she explained.

It's the same thing volunteers did the last time rain was in the forecast, but she's concerned that the aid might not be enough.

10News reporter Ciara Encinas asked agents if we will see more boots on the ground because of the showers on the way.

"That could take place. Like we saw earlier this year with the hurricane as it approached the San Diego area, the chief put agents at the forefront of those areas that needed help," said Agent Justin Castrejon, San Diego Sector Border Patrol.

He said all agents are first responders.

He added there were more than 5,600 rescues last fiscal year.

He said rescue calls pick up during weather events.

"The terrain is unpredictable. With precipitation, these areas that are now dry, can quickly become flooded with water. A lot of the trails will be washed out. The rocks are insecure. The dirt is unsecured," he said.