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Mayor Gloria, Supervisors Fletcher and Vargas Comment on Changes to Migrant Children Population in San Diego

04/09/21

Last night, in response to the evolving needs of unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the United States, U.S. Department of Health and Human services (HHS) transferred 300 teenage girls from the emergency intake site at the San Diego Convention Center to another site at Fort Bliss in Texas. The transfer creates space in San Diego for an equal number of “tender-age” children (ages 5 to 12) and older siblings who have been in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The new arrivals will be in San Diego on Friday.

The casework involving the girls moving to Texas will continue, with hopes of uniting them with verified family or sponsors as soon as possible.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher and Vice Chair Nora Vargas reacted with the following statement:

“San Diego was chosen as the best place for the most vulnerable younger children because of the high standards of care that our local service providers like South Bay Community Services and Rady Children’s Hospital have set. We are incredibly proud of the work they have done in such a short period of time. Regardless of the ages of the children arriving, San Diego will give them the compassionate support they need as they await the day they’re connected with the family members or guardians who will care for them here in the United States.”

The San Diego emergency intake site started on March 27 with a focus on girls between the ages of 13 and 17. In addition, roughly 100 tender-age children with older sisters were taken in before the site reached its capacity of 1,450. The Convention Center will operate in this capacity until July 15.

The unaccompanied migrant children in San Diego are provided with comprehensive case management, medical and behavioral health care, educational and recreational activities, nutritious meals, hygiene, and legal assistance.

No children will be transported out of the San Diego site if they have COVID-19.  

To accommodate the new population, there will be an increase in the number of staff needed for supervision. HHS will adjust staffing through existing contracts and an increase in federal staff on site. There will also be adjustments made to the contracted services for education, mental health and food/nutritional services.