Gavin Newsom at immigration shelter
Gavin Newsom at an immigration shelter near the border. Courtesy of the governor-elect

Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom visited San Diego County Thursday to get a first-hand look at local immigration facilities and meet advocates offering legal help to asylum seekers.

Newsom visited the Otay Mesa Immigration Detention Center and spoke with reporters at the San Ysidro Civic Center. In addition to the border visit, Newsom said he plans to meet with officials from the Mexican government during this weekend’s inauguration of Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

At the post-visit news conference, Newsom called on the city of San Diego and San Diego and Imperial counties to do more to support immigrants illegally coming to the U.S., rather than just simply responding to the influx.

Newsom acknowledged that the state government also needs to make a greater effort in supporting immigrants and asylum seekers, suggesting that they often end up homeless without access to the proper support networks and resources.

“My job is to be constructive, my job is to try to find ways to bring people to the table and to address what legitimately can be described as a humanitarian crisis,” Newsom said. “We’re all in this together. I feel a deep sense of responsibility to address the issues that we as a broader community face and I think we need to humanize this issue, not politicize the issue.”

Newsom critiqued federal immigration authorities on Twitter over the weekend after a clash between members of the migrant caravan in Tijuana and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents resulted in the use of tear gas to quell the crowds.

CBP officials shut the San Ysidro Port of Entry completely for multiple hours as a result of the incident and multiple migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

“These children are barefoot. In diapers. Choking on tear gas,” Newsom wrote on Twitter after photos surfaced of a woman at the border with two young children trying to avoid tear gas cannisters. “Women and children who left their lives behind — seeking peace and asylum — were met with violence and fear. That’s not my America. We’re a land of refuge. Of hope. Of freedom. And we will not stand for this.”

–City News Service