Temporary shelter for migrant families opens in San Diego, organizers ask for help

Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Temporary shelter for migrant families opens in San Diego, organizers ask for help

Kate Clark stood at the street to greet an incoming bus of asylum-seeking families, 31 people in total, dropped off by immigration officials shortly before 4 p.m. on Monday.

She led the group, about half parents and half children, mostly between the ages of 3 and 8, to the building that has served as a temporary shelter for the past three weeks. The first emotion they showed her — relief.

"You can tell they're unsure about what's to come," said Clark, director of immigration services at Jewish Family Service of San Diego, one of the organizations in a coalition running the shelter.

A couple of hours later, a white van dropped off a mother, eight months pregnant, and her 7-year-old son. Clark carried the woman’s duffle bag and brought her water while a doctor interviewed her.

The San Diego Rapid Response Network, initially launched in December 2017 to respond to reports of immigration-related arrests inside the U.S., opened the shelter in response to the federal government’s decision to end a program that helped asylum-seeking families get to their final destinations in the U.S. after they crossed the border.

The new arrivals brought the total of people staying at the shelter to 117 with another busload expected later in the evening. Volunteers for the network also frequently pick up groups of families that have, for some reason, been dropped off in other parts of the county instead of at the shelter, adding to the total.

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