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Mayor Gloria, Congress Members, County Supervisors Laud Success of Shelter for Unaccompanied Migrant Children

MORE THAN 2,400 YOUTH TEMPORARILY HOUSED AT CONVENTION CENTER REUNITED WITH FAMILY IN U.S.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 15, 2021

CONTACT:
MayorPress@sandiego.gov

 

SAN DIEGO – In keeping with his commitment to protecting the most vulnerable among us and ensuring that San Diego continues to be a welcoming city, Mayor Gloria today was joined by elected officials from the federal and county governments to praise the work done by the local community to temporarily shelter and care for thousands of unaccompanied migrant children at the San Diego Convention Center.

“Thousands of vulnerable children hoping to escape unimaginable conditions in their home countries needed San Diego’s help – and the people of San Diego responded,” Mayor Gloria said. “In a matter of days, working together, we built a safe, nurturing home away from home for these kids, and in just a few months, we created a model program for the rest of the country to follow. Having visited the facility regularly, I know the children in our care will remember San Diego fondly for the rest of their lives. I couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved.”

The Mayor was joined by Congressmembers Scott Peters, Juan Vargas, Sara Jacobs and Mike Levin, along with County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher and Vice Chair Nora Vargas.

Since March, the Convention Center has served as a federally controlled emergency intake site that helped reunite 2,408 migrant children with family members in the U.S.

Under contracts with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, local nonprofit South Bay Community Services (SBCS) provided case management, Rady Children’s Hospital provided medical care, and the San Diego County Office of Education provided educational services. Numerous subcontractors provided additional necessary services while other local organizations helped with enrichment activities on a volunteer basis.

“We have a legal and moral obligation to safely care for unaccompanied children as we work to unite them with their parents or sponsors,” said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “From day one, the San Diego Emergency Intake Site accomplished this mission and served as a model for other emergency intake sites. I’m grateful to all of the staff, volunteers, local leaders and people across neighboring communities who supported this temporary shelter and stepped up to support the children.”

“The emergency intake site for unaccompanied immigrant children at the San Diego Convention Center set the example for kindness and decency during an extraordinarily difficult and dangerous time for the health and welfare of migrant children,” said U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “I want to thank the staff, the San Diego community, Mayor Gloria, the city and county governments and the convention center for helping care for these vulnerable children.”

“This was an act of compassion, and as a result, over 2,000 children and adolescents were released to family and sponsors from this intake center,” said U.S. Rep. Peters (CA-52). “As we close this facility, I recommit to reforming our asylum process and fixing our broken immigration system. Today, we also fulfill our commitment to fully reopen the convention center to revive San Diego’s tourism sector. In our recovery from the devastation of COVID-19, we move forward knowing that our Convention Center served vulnerable populations, and now, it will once again function as a major economic driver in our region.”

“Everyone at the local, state, federal and nonprofit level that collaborated to welcome these migrant children – and safely reunite them with family – made this Emergency Intake Site a success,” said U.S. Rep. Vargas (CA-51). “Many of these children arrived at our nation’s doorstep, fleeing extreme violence in their home countries. The team in San Diego, at all levels, completed the processing of thousands of migrant children with dignity and compassion. America is a nation born of immigrants and San Diego’s welcoming spirit helped further that legacy.”

“When the San Diego Convention Center opened as an emergency intake site back in March, my top priority was for us to remember that the people in our care were children and that we had a responsibility to care for them. I’m proud that our community stepped up, opened our doors to them, and provided a temporary place for them to live and to learn,” said U.S. Rep. Jacobs (CA-53). “While San Diego's role in this immediate effort has ended, I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in Washington, D.C. to build a system that restores order, fairness, and dignity to our legal asylum processes, and keeps families together.”

“Last March, I joined Mayor Gloria and my San Diego congressional delegation colleagues to prepare for the arrival of migrant children seeking asylum here in San Diego. Since then, this temporary facility has housed more than 3,200 children and reunited over 2,400 of them with family sponsors here in the United States,” said U.S. Rep. Levin (CA-49). “That is an incredible accomplishment, and it’s encouraging to know that these young people have an opportunity for a better life. We must do everything we can to treat immigrants with humanity and dignity, and that means creating facilities like this one, providing shelter, basic human necessities like toiletries, and medical care for those who have nowhere else to go.”

“At times of tremendous need, San Diegans are always willing to step up. We did it once again by rising up to help thousands of unaccompanied migrant children, providing shelter, food, education and recreation, but most importantly, a caring environment,” said County Board of Supervisors Chair Fletcher. “Because of the work by nonprofits, countless volunteers and government agencies, we made this stop on their life’s journey a better one. Thank you to all who made this possible.”

“As an immigrant myself, I’m proud of our San Diego community for stepping up to turn our convention center into a safe haven for these children,” said County Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Vargas. “From nutritious meals and enrichment opportunities to medical and mental health support services and more – our regional collaboration not only met the needs of these children, but also provided them the warmth and care they longed for in their journey. Together we reached our goal of ensuring the reunification of these children with their families or caring sponsor, and for that we should all be proud.”

The operation was led by Pete Weldy, regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In appreciation of his strong, compassionate leadership, Mayor Gloria proclaimed July 15, 2021, to be Pete Weldy Day in the City of San Diego. Members of San Diego’s congressional delegation also honored Weldy with a proclamation today.

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