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The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to identify county property to use for a migrant shelter.
The move comes as part of preparations for asylum processing to resume at the border. The Biden administration has said that in late May it will end a policy known as Title 42 that has prevented many asylum seekers from entering the United States. That end date may be complicated by recent legal challenges.
Title 42, which began in March 2020 under the Trump administration and continued under President Joe Biden, instructs border officials to turn away asylum seekers and other undocumented migrants who approach ports of entry and to expel them if they are caught entering without permission.
Many of the people who have been prevented from crossing because of the policy have waited months or even years in northern Mexico to be able to enter the United States and request protection. They are hoping that they will be able to come in soon after Title 42 lifts.
Even if no new asylum seekers travel to the border, that will likely greatly increase the need for migrant services along the border. Most asylum seekers only stay in San Diego for a couple of days before moving on to their final destinations elsewhere in the country.
“We are proactively taking steps to embrace asylees who come to San Diego County after Title 42 is terminated,” said Nathan Fletcher, chair of the board. “This vote puts us in a position to provide the care, compassion, and services people will need when they get here.”
The board will also ask for state and federal funds to cover costs associated with the shelter.
That shelter would be in addition to the one run by the San Diego Rapid Response Network. After the San Diego Rapid Response Network shelter opened in late 2018, the Board of Supervisors temporarily provided a facility for that shelter.
The network’s shelter was initially set up to have people in its care sleeping on cots in a large room. Since the pandemic, the shelter has used hotel rooms to house newly arrived asylum seekers in order to keep them distanced from each other and to quarantine anyone who tests positive for COVID-19.
It is not clear what type of sleeping arrangement the county’s new shelter will have.
The Biden administration on Tuesday also announced its preparations for the border’s reopening in a memorandum detailing a range of moves including increasing the number of officials working at the border and preparing to transport asylum seekers to places that are less busy for processing.
The administration is also planning to ramp up deterrence efforts including punishment for repeat crossers, targeting of smuggling organizations and pressure on other countries in the hemisphere to do more to stop people from reaching the United States altogether.
Source: This post first appeared on sandiegouniontribune.com