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SD COMMUNITY MEMBERS AND NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS RALLY TO SUPPORT THOUSANDS OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Immigrant rights organizations have come together to provide vital humanitarian services and are actively helping migrants reach safety.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 22, 2023

Media Contacts: Alicia Vargas, avargas@immdef.org, (213) 653-1442

Melissa Flores, melissa@alotrolado.org, (213) 444-6081

Logan Goverman, lgoverman@interfaithservices.org, (760) 658-1443


SAN DIEGO, CA – Since September 13th Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has released 5,870 migrants and asylum seekers onto the streets in San Diego County. In response, there is a coordinated effort from non-profit organizations, grassroots groups and ordinary citizens who have come together to meet this challenging moment and ensure migrants are welcomed to San Diego with dignity. This coordinated effort is providing these vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers with urgent humanitarian support services, including food, water, basic first aid and respite shelter when needed. We are also providing phone charging stations and WIFI access so migrants and asylum seekers can communicate with loved ones all over the United States with whom they seek to reunite. Organizations and community members are also providing information to migrants to assist them in reaching their final destinations, as we know that the safest place for them to be is with their families or sponsors. This morning alone our collective efforts received and served 463 migrants who originated from 37 different countries including Cameroon, Cuba, Mauritania and Venezuela, and we are expecting more throughout the afternoon and in the coming days.

The network of partner non-profit and grassroots organizations providing assistance include Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef), Al Otro Lado, San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (SDIRC), Interfaith Community Services, Casa Familiar, Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, San Diego Rapid Response Network (SDRRN), Detention Resistance Collective, American Friends Service Committee, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Universidad Popular, Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans, Haitian Bridge Alliance, and many other local organizations.


Organizations on the ground supporting individuals released to the streets by DHS are leveraging Miles4Migrants to help reunite families, please consider donating your airline miles via Miles4Migrants. We need your help! https://bit.ly/M4M_MileageDonation


Volunteers and additional community partners are desperately needed. After nine consecutive days of triaging, safeguarding, and helping asylum seekers, our humanitarian response teams need backup. South Bay: https://rb.gy/xzzil North County: https://rb.gy/u6ufg


The following quotes can be attributed to each individual organization:


“The San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (SDIRC) is a coalition of approximately 50 community, faith, labor and legal organizations across San Diego County that works to advance the rights of immigrants and refugees in our region. Our members responded to the urgent need for humanitarian aid and assistance at the open-air detention site and the street release locations in the San Ysidro area, and at other sites throughout the San Diego region. SDIRC is proud to work with and support community organizations and caring individuals who are responding with their time and resources, with little to no assistance from government agencies. Community organizations and volunteers are working together to fill the gaps and meet the needs of asylum seekers, but we need all levels of government to step up and provide resources to help welcome asylum seekers with dignity.” - Paulina Reyes-Perrariz, Chair, San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium and Immigrant Defenders Law Center Managing Attorney


“Casa Familiar is the leading service and community development organization in the community of San Ysidro, providing over 40 bilingual programs and services at six different sites in the community. We have been part of the community for 50 years. Casa Familiar is an organization that responds to urgent community needs and stands at the ready to welcome asylum seekers with dignity, compassion, and respect as they need a brief moment of support while they make travel arrangements to move on to their final destination to be reunited with loved ones and their points of contact.” – Lisa Cuestas, CEO, Casa Familiar


“Immigrant Defenders Law Center is committed to responding to the needs of vulnerable people who have been inhumanely dropped off on the streets of San Diego by CBP, often with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Part of welcoming people with dignity is making sure they know where they are, have their basic needs met and understand how to get where they need to go. It’s that simple. We are stepping up to treat people the same way we would want our own families to be treated if they

were in these incredibly difficult circumstances.” - Lindsay Toczylowski, Executive Director at Immigrant Defenders Law Center


The Haitian Bridge Alliance stands united with our community partners and our commitment remains unwavering as we continue to welcome all, from every corner of the world, with dignity, compassion, and the hope for safety, protection and a better tomorrow. The efforts of the amazing volunteers is a testament of the beauty of who we are as a people and reflects the hearts of the majority of community members across the U.S supporting the right and freedom of people to migrate. We urge the U.S. Border Patrol to play its part in properly welcoming those seeking asylum. It is crucial to acknowledge that migrants are human beings, many of whom are fleeing torture, persecution, political unrest, and/or human rights violations. It is inhumane and cruel to separate families, drop them off in the streets, and provide little to no guidance on next steps. These acts are not only problematic and dangerous but add unnecessary strain on local organizations who are our best to provide food, water, access to internet, and other basic necessities to these vulnerable populations.” - Guerline Jozef, Haitian Bridge Alliance President.


“God calls us to welcome the stranger!”

- Robert Vivar, Border Missioner, Episcopal Diocese of San Diego


“It is clear that CBP and Border Patrol have learned nothing from the worldwide public outcry against family separation under the prior administration. Because today, under President Biden, the federal government is once again separating asylum seeking families at the border. Although these families enter custody intact, CBP and Border Patrol are releasing asylum seeking family members to different transit centers, in different locations, on different days, and without providing any information to these asylum seekers about their loved ones’ whereabouts, This disregard for family unity and safety puts these families at grave risk of falling victim to a serious crime or worse, disappearing, never to be heard from again. Many of them do not speak English, some have been released without any documents, or have lost access to their cell phones with all their contacts. These family separations are being done in our name, with US tax dollars, and there is no law enforcement interest or agency operational need that could justify the continuing of this practice. Full stop.” - Erika Pinheiro, Executive Director, Al Otro Lado


“Interfaith Community Services is also seeking congregations and host families to provide emergency shelter for 24-48 hours for asylum seekers who have been separated from their families and are being reunited locally before traveling out of the area together to their sponsor family.” - Greg Anglea, CEO, Interfaith Community Services


“Detention Resistance is a non-institutional collective that seeks to affirm the humanity of migrants along the southern border. As a mutual aid collective, we are steered by community members who believe in the freedom of movement across colonial borders. Our collective goes through great lengths to redefine charity and solidarity by emphasizing the practice of accompaniment. Walking, working, and organizing side by side with directly impacted friends and family as they navigate an immoral immigration and detention system. But for every profit seeking institution enmeshed in our political system, there are people with a collective will to do good. Detention Resistance is on the ground with volunteers, old and new, who understand that we don’t need permission to give a helping hand. And we call on everyone to join us in welcoming our friends and family seeking a better life.” ***** “Resistencia a la Detención es un colectivo no institucional que busca afirmar la humanidad de los migrantes a lo largo de la frontera sur. Como colectivo de ayuda mutua, estamos dirigidos por miembros de la comunidad que creen en la libertad de movimiento a través de las fronteras coloniales. Nuestro colectivo hace todo lo posible para redefinir la caridad y la solidaridad enfatizando la práctica del acompañamiento. Caminando, trabajando y organizando codo a codo con amigos y familiares directamente afectados mientras navegan por un sistema inmoral de inmigración y detención. Pero por cada institución con fines de lucro enredada en nuestro sistema político, hay un pueblo con una voluntad colectiva de hacer el bien. Resistencia a la Detención está sobre el terreno con voluntarios, antiguos y nuevos, que entienden que no necesitamos permiso para ayudar. Y hacemos un llamado a todos a unirse a nosotros para dar la bienvenida a nuestros amigos y familiares que buscan una vida mejor.” - Detention Resistance Collective


“Consistent with our welcoming efforts over the last five years since San Diego Rapid Response Network Migrant Shelter Services opened, SDRRN proudly stands alongside the community of organizations, grassroots groups and individuals welcoming individuals who were released to the streets by DHS. Together, we can ensure no one stands alone in our community and these individuals receive a compassionate welcome." - San Diego Rapid Response Network Steering Committee: Kate Clark, senior director of immigration services, Jewish Family Service of San Diego; Norma Chavez-Peterson, executive director, ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties; David Garcias, former president, Local 221 SEIU; and Alejandra Garcias, Dreamer Center project specialist, Southwestern College


“As a Quaker-based human rights organization, the American Friends Service Committee’s US-Mexico Border Program is committed to treating asylum-seeking migrants with dignity, and in joining with our sister organizations in ensuring that all people are welcomed with dignity and respect. We have been working to support migrants that Border Patrol has left in open-air detention sites in San Ysidro by feeding, providing water, medical care, and advocating to have their humanitarian needs met. We join fellow community organizations in their vital work as they provide multiple support services to migrants that CBP has abandoned in the streets of San Diego, who are the same people who days before faced treacherous conditions trapped between two 30-ft border walls.” - Pedro Rios, Director, US-Mexico Border Program, American Friends Service Committee


“This continuing situation at the US southern border is a product of inhumane policies of successive administrations. These cruel policies including the use of Title 42, the zero-tolerance policy and the introduction of CBPOne app among others, are meant to gut the asylum process. Hence, the arrival of thousands on our southern border is a reflection of the desperation of people all over the world, who are presented with no good option to protect themselves and their families. APALA believes that it is our duty to welcome these asylum seekers with dignity and humanity. We join the efforts to assist these people as we call on the local governments to mobilize resources to provide humanitarian aid.” - Ian M Seruelo, San Diego Chapter Leader, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance


“Universidad Popular, a community-based grassroots organization, continues to be on the frontline providing humanitarian assistance at the border wall in San Ysidro and Jacumba. We are also partnering with Restoration Abby and many caring community members to provide welcoming support including emergency shelter, transportation, food, clothing, legal referrals, and an introduction to Chicanx and border history. We join the call for a critical and concerted response to the migrant situation from the government, civil society, and philanthropic entities across jurisdictions to address the urgent and long-term needs in the southern border region.” - Arcela Nuñez-Alvarez, Co-Director of Universidad Popular & SDIRC Advisory Board Member


“We join our community partners to provide some level of welcome amidst the inhumane border policies of this administration. On the ground, we are working to provide interpretation to the diverse communities seeking asylum and identifying safe and culturally appropriate shelter, but the needs far outweigh the support available. We call on local, state, and federal governments to provide rapid humanitarian resources to our border region.” - Homayra Yusufi, Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA).


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Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef) is a next-generation social justice law firm that defends our immigrant communities against injustices in the legal system. We envision a future where no immigrant will be forced to face immigration court alone. Our programs are a first step towards the long-term goal of providing universal representation to all immigrants facing deportation. ImmDef is now the largest non‐profit, pro bono provider of deportation defense in California with offices in Los Angeles, Adelanto, Riverside, Santa Ana, and San Diego.

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