Exclusive video obtained by NBC 7 shows families detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) being dropped off in parts of Central San Diego with no apparent sense of direction.
A Honduran man among a drop-off group, usually several family units totaling 20 to 40 people, says now that he’s in the U.S. he’s one step closer to getting his 5-year-old son the help he needs.
“He has bronchial fistula and an umbilical hernia. And from what they told me the fistula is leaking and they don't know if the leak is coming from his heart or his brain,” the man, who wished to remain anonymous, said of his son’s condition.
He said he risked it all to save his boy’s life.
A witness to the drop-offs told NBC 7 he’s seen daily drop-offs for at least a week. A video shared with NBC 7 by another witness shows the unmarked charter bus making a drop off on Monday. The family groups that got off didn’t seem to know where to go next.
“When they released us, they just came and dropped us off here on the bus,” the Honduran man said. “And then they told us from here on out we were on our own.”
Advocates have asked not to reveal the drop-off locations out of concern for families’ safety.
The man said he was detained at the Otay Mesa Detention Center for six days in a room with his son and 14 others. This, after a 25-day trek from Honduras to San Ysidro.
“By making sacrifices. Big sacrifices. Asking for rides. In some cases paying for a bus ride,” he said of his journey.
Many of the families being dropped off are asylum seekers. ICE spokesperson Lauren Mack said that as of Oct. 23, the agency is unable to help detainees line up their accommodations prior to their release.
Mack said there’s not enough space in the family-friendly facilities and families can't be housed in regular detention centers.
The only other option, according to Mack, is to release them. The families are given court dates and monitored through a GPS tracking device until their case is decided.
The Honduran man said he has family in L.A but he wasn’t able to make a phone call and notify them before his release. He has a court date in two weeks and hopes he can get a visa and worker's permit so his son can get the life-saving surgery he needs.
The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego is helping those who may need a place to stay until they can contact family in the U.S.
Donations may be dropped off at Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in UTC area, 4321 Eastgate Mall.