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With Migrant Welcome Center on verge of running out of money, county board to vote on additional funding

Posted at 8:16 AM, Dec 05, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The Migrant Welcome Center in San Diego is at risk of running out of money by the end of the month, and on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors is expected to vote to give SBCS, the nonprofit running the center, another $3 million to keep it going.

Under the proposal, the new round of funds will come from the American Rescue Plan. The county has set it aside as part of funding they call evergreen, meaning it can be used at their discretion.

Local nonprofit groups that have been helping asylum-seeking migrants camped out at the southern border think the county should consider giving them money, too.

"First, I think the $3 million that's been given to the welcome center has been spent far too quickly there needs to be accountability around those funds," said Erika Pinero, with the group Al Otro Lado.

Al Otro Lado is one of the organizations helping migrants in Jacumba. In the small border town, migrants are camped around fires created to keep them warm in the camp.

"We arrived today in the morning," said Aroostrom.

The camp was the first stop on Aroostom's journey in the United States, just like it’s been for thousands of others over the past seven months.

"I can feel in the air the freedom already, but I'm going to see how it goes through the cities and the country," he said.

He and the dozens of other migrants in the makeshift camp wait in tents until Border Patrol agents pick them up for the next leg of the journey.

"It's really shocking for me to see something like this in the United States where I know we have the resources to bring people indoors," said Pinero. "We're providing two meals a day. We come out with blankets and jackets at night then volunteers and mutual aid groups are also building some of the shelters you see here behind you."

After migrants leave the site, they will end up at a processing center. Many will then arrive at the Migrant Welcome Center in San Diego.

SBCS said it is at risk of running out of money to run the center come Dec. 31.

In October, the county gave SBCS it's first round of funding. The group said most of the money has been spent on transporting and feeding migrants.

The funding is something County Supervisor Jim Desmond is against because he believes it's a federal issue.

Pinero said that the board should look to allocating some of the money to campsites like the one she helps at.

"But also should be sending in medical. They should really be taking more responsibility for what's happening on county land," she said.

Pinero said her organization is providing food, clothing, and shelter to the same migrants at a fraction of the cost, spending about $150,000 per month.