Migrant rights group no longer able to help at San Diego Airport

Migrant rights group no longer able to help at San Diego Airport
Posted at 6:18 PM, Jan 08, 2024

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The San Diego Airport welcomes people from all over the world. Over the last year, that included thousands of asylum seekers.

"When people come to the airport they expect to arrive maybe three hours before their flight but we were seeing people here for two to three days," said Jas, a volunteer with nonprofit "We all we got".

She says they help around 100 migrants per night at the airport, guiding them to their sponsors across the country who will support them through the asylum process. Some of the migrants haven't eaten for over 16 hours or need medical attention.

"The person that's sitting in the corner over here crossed through the Darien gap, got malaria on the way, lost a relative to make it here, and then they're expected to find their own way," Jas said.

Jas says she brings the migrants food and water. She also directs them to their departure gate and helps them exchange money. A group called Immigrant Defenders Law Center used to fund these services.

"We believe there is a big need for this additional support at the airport," said Paulina Reyes-Perrariz, the Managing Attorney of Immigrant Defenders Law Center.

Reyes-Perrariz says they paid Jas and others to work 11-hour shifts throughout the week, and that's about to end.

"We just don't have the funds to continue staffing directly at the airport," Reyes-Perrariz said.

Reyes-Perrariz says the law center is scaling back its operations at the San Diego Airport, although the need is still there. Jas and other volunteers say they will have to work less hours. But they'll continue helping at the airport, with or without the funding.

"We do this on our own time and our own dime because it's important to us," Jas said.