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Migrant Families Within San Diego

An influx of migrant families have been released onto the streets of San Diego with immediate physical needs that have not been met — many leaving with no means of transportation or nowhere to go.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began to cut back on post-release procedures for apprehended families, according to a statement from ICE on Oct. 23.

“To mitigate the risk of holding family units past the time frame allotted to the government, ICE began curtailing all reviews of post-release plans from families apprehended along the southwest border,” a statement released from ICE agency reads.

Post-release procedures would normally include communication with family members before families are released from ICE custody to ensure they could reach their destinations in the United States.

Without these procedures, the released families were in need of shelter, food and clothes.

A collaborative call from The San Diego Rapid Response Network (SDRRN) gave information to local agencies to ask for support in this community crisis.

The SDRRN, according to their website, “is a coalition of human rights and service organizations, attorneys and community leaders dedicated to aiding immigrants and their families in the San Diego border region.”

Point Loma Nazarene University’s Center for Justice and Reconciliation (CJR), lead by faculty Kim Berry Jones and students Elaine Giles and Lauren Perez, saw a need for help and rapidly put together a clothing drive to later donate to the affected people.

We knew something needed to be done so decided to do a last minute pop up donation booth on Caf Lane,” said Perez. “We advertised the night before on social media, not expecting a great turn out due to the last minute nature of the donation drive, but people flooded us with donations.”

Though the donation drive was short notice, Jones reported two carloads full of food and clothes donated primarily from students.

“At least half of the immigrants didn’t have anything with them but the envelope [of their information from ICE],” Jones said. “It was heartwarming to see the quick response of our students.”

Both Perez and Giles went to drop off the donations from PLNU at the private shelters where migrant families are staying. The volunteers present at the facility were able to organize in such a short amount of time — they saw a need and tried their best to meet it.

“I felt heartbroken that the experiences of people seeking refuge in this ‘Land of the Free’ were going to be met with starvation, homelessness and ankle bracelets,” Giles said. “Dropping the clothes off was an intensely emotional experience. We saw those who were receiving the donations face-to-face.”

Giles explained that many of the families at the shelter had been separated through the migration process while some even had family left in Guatemala and other countries.

“I know that this is a very controversial topic,” said Perez. “People have differing opinions concerning migrants seeking asylum here in the U.S. However, I feel that as followers of Christ we are called to come alongside our brothers and sisters, whether they are U.S. citizens or not, and love and support them in any way we can.”


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Emilyn Giddings and Hannah-Rae Ernst

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