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

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget unveiled Thursday includes emergency funding to assist asylum seekers who have recently entered the United States as well as the humanitarian organizations that support them.

The proposed budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year includes $25 million for a community-based rapid response program for nonprofits helping migrant families seeking protection from violence and persecution in their home countries.

A total of $5 million would be made available immediately, according to the governor’s office.

Since last fall, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have been dropping asylum seekers at bus stations and other public locations along the border with identifying ankle bracelets but no assistance.

A coalition of nonprofits led by Jewish Family Service of San Diego, Catholic Charities, the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties, SEIU Local 221 and the San Diego Organizing Project have provided temporary shelter and meals to over 4,500 people, primarily women and children.

Most of the refugees helped by the ad-hoc San Diego Rapid Response Network are housed for just 24 to 48 hours until travel arrangements can be made.

In a visit to the Otay Mesa Immigration Detention Center in November, Newsom said the state needed to exert more effort to support recently arrived immigrants, who often lack proper support networks and can end up homeless in areas like San Diego and Imperial counties.

“My constituents have seen an influx of migrants being dropped on San Diego streets by federal officials without the support system to help them,” said Assemblyman Todd Gloria, who represent San Diego. “I want to particularly thank Gov. Newsom for including $25 million (including an immediate $5 million) to assist our community-based organizations in providing services to address this crisis.”

On Tuesday, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to find unused county property that could be used for a temporary migrant shelter.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.