Welcome center for migrants in San Diego County to close as funding runs out

by: Salvador Rivera
Posted: Feb 20, 2024 / 06:48 PM CST
Updated: Feb 20, 2024 / 06:48 PM CST


SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — A facility that has been providing help and support to migrants is in danger of shutting down after running out of county funding.

The Welcome Center, as it’s called, opened in October at a former elementary school about 5 miles east of downtown San Diego.

SBCS, the non-profit agency formerly known as South Bay Community Services, has been in charge of the site.

Since it opened, it has been sending buses to Border Patrol stations around the county to pick up migrants who have been processed, bringing them to the site.

The migrant “welcome center” in San Diego sits at a former elementary school in San Diego. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

While at the center, asylum-seekers get meals and other assistance before they head to their final destinations throughout the U.S.

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According to SBCS, the center has been helping anywhere from 400 to 800 migrants per day.

The County of San Diego says it has spent $6 million to keep the facility running.
SBCS stated the funding ran out earlier than anticipated, and they can’t stay open much longer.

Migrants staying dry outside welcome center for asylum seekers in San Diego. (Salvador Rivera/Border Report)

Through a statement, it says they have to shut down by February 22.

As the number of migrants arriving at the center has increased significantly over the last few weeks, our finite resources have been stretched to the limit,” said Kathie Lembo, president and CEO of SBCS. said in a statement. “Leading this effort has been an honor. …

We will continue working with the County and our partners in hopes of identifying additional resources to keep the center open, preventing hundreds of individuals a day from being stranded in San Diego without the support they need to continue their journey.”

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San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond says he is against providing any more taxpayer money to run the center.

“I have consistently opposed using local funds for federal responsibilities, as I firmly believe that local tax dollars should not be used to compensate for federal ineptness,” wrote Desmond. “These funds should have been directed toward tackling urgent issues within our county, such as homelessness and public safety.”

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The center fears migrants will once again be released onto the streets by the busload, something Border Patrol says is a possibility.

“That will be the likely outcome,” wrote Eric Lavergne, Assistant Chief Patrol Agent, Strategic Communications for the San Diego Sector.