by Photo courtesy of San Diego County

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a temporary shelter policy unanimously to manage asylum seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border requesting humanitarian protection. 

The county will seek reimbursement for shelter services at the state and federal levels. Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher and Vice Chairwoman Nora Vargas presented the policy to address short-term and long-term solutions for the influx of migrants entering the county. 

The approval of this policy comes in lieu of the expiration on May 23 of Title 42, a law that grants the government the ability to take emergency action to stop the “introduction of communicable diseases". 

“This is a very personal issue for me,'' Vargas said, citing her work with the San Diego Rapid Response Network, a human rights and immigrant rights group. 

Despite any litigation surrounding Title 42, “this is the direction we must go," Vargas said. 

Vargas also said the subcommittee would seek input from supervisors and network with the county Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs moving forward.

According to a staff report, approval of this policy will create an ad-hoc Board of Supervisor subcommittee to address short and, long-term, goals since immigration regulations are not under local authority. The Chief Administrative Officer was instructed to immediately provide immediate assistance in identifying temporary shelter to prepare for the influx. 

Fletcher and Vargas have pushed actions to tackle issues for migrant communities since 2021, including making COVID-19 vaccines available, working with San Diego and other groups to open the San Diego Convention Center for unaccompanied children seeking asylum, and establishing the county's Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.

“San Diego County has established itself as a welcoming community for families seeking asylum,'' Fletcher said earlier. “Several years ago we demonstrated our ability to work with local partners, stand up a shelter, provide services and help families make connections to their sponsors; and it is important we are prepared to provide humane support for families coming to San Diego." 

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