NewsTeam 10 Investigates


San Diego County: Nearly $2 million spent for migrant support

Safe Release Program ended in October
Posted at 5:39 PM, May 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-20 21:11:47-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- The County of San Diego has spent nearly $2 million to support migrants after the federal government ended the Safe Release Program, according to county officials.

Flights carrying between 120 to 135 people are now flying from Texas to San Diego to relieve the processing backlog in the Rio Grande Valley sector in Texas. That sector is 200 percent over capacity, according to acting San Diego Border Patrol Chief Doug Harrison. So far, 10News has confirmed at least two flights have arrived in San Diego. It is not clear how many migrants, if any, will ultimately need county support. This latest round of migrants from Texas are first processed through Border Patrol before Immigration and Customs Enforcement takes over the processing. ICE told Team 10 custody is determined on a "case-by-case basis."

Organizations like the San Diego County Rapid Response Network along with the County have stepped in since the end of the Safe Release Program. The program provided asylum seekers resources like transportation until their scheduled immigration court appearance. In a federal lawsuit filed in April, the County blamed the federal government saying "the County has suffered" and the move has "unfairly shifted the... burdens to the County and its residents."

RELATED: Border officials say migrants from Texas being transferred to San Diego

Projected county costs for supporting migrant services totaled more than $1.65 million. That amount was through May 3rd. Here is the breakdown:

- $1,014,570 for contracted health services through UCSD
- $321,676 for Health and Human Services Agency staff salary/benefits
- $73,392 for County Department of General Services staff support
- $89,640 for interpreters
- $76,965 for contracted nurse
- $22,743 for County Public Safety Group's Office of Emergency Services staff support
- $13,045 for pharmaceuticals
- $41,103 for various supplies and equipment

As of late Monday afternoon, Supervisor Dianne Jacob said the latest amount is actually closer to $2 million. She released this statement to Team 10:

“I am deeply concerned that flying in hundreds of migrant families will put an even greater strain on San Diego non-profits, agencies and taxpayers. Immigration is clearly the responsibility of the federal government, but now it’s sticking San Diego County with the bill. Since the opening of an emergency shelter downtown in October, the county has had to spend nearly $2 million to screen and process some 14,000 asylum seekers. Local taxpayers should not be on the hook for this.”

It is unclear how long the migrant flights from Texas to San Diego will last.