Hundreds of migrant families are flying to San Diego from the Texas-Mexico border after the U.S. Border Patrol announced its new plan on Friday.
Border Patrol said the move will help alleviate the overwhelmed processing facilities in Texas. However, migrant shelters in San Diego said they are also running at maximum capacity.
“It's a challenge, no doubt about it, and with the numbers coming through, we’re pretty much at maximum right now, and to hear they have an additional three flights a week with 130 people -- that's going to add an additional layer of complexity,” said Pastor Bill Jenkins.
Jenkins is the director of the Safe Harbors Network which works with volunteers to open up churches and homes to house migrants on a long-term stay.
“We will be able to do everything we can to give them a roof over their head, get them out of the rain, give them a shower, and a place for them to be safe,” said Jenkins.
Often times, Jenkins said he is taking in migrants that find their own way to his church's doorsteps to await trial.
The Safe Harbors Network works with San Diego Rapid Response, which looks for temporary housing for migrants.
In March, the former San Diego Family Courthouse was transformed into a migrant shelter. The shelter is run by the Jewish Families Services under San Diego's Rapid Response Network, and the group said they are working to house the migrants as quickly as they can.
In a statement, San Diego's Rapid Response Network wrote:
“Families housed at the shelter include an average of one to two young children, with average stays of 12 to 48 hours. As quickly as one group of families moves on, others are released and dropped off by immigration authorities.”
The two groups have about 300 beds to offer migrants and are constantly looking for more.
“At a humanitarian level, it's much better to distribute that load then just insist Rio Grande Valley has to handle all this,” said professor Ev Meade.
Meade is the Border Institute Director at the University of San Diego. He told NBC 7 there would be more capacity to house migrants if they were released quickly.
“If you look at our detention policy, we don't have to keep all of our detention centers full. We do have the option to release people on bond,” said Meade.
Border Patrol said once they process migrants in San Diego, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is then responsible for them.
ICE said they are continually reviewing their detention requirements and exploring other options in order to house migrants under their custody.