The first group of undocumented minors to be temporarily housed at the San Diego Convention Center, California, arrived on Saturday night from Texas, local media reported on Sunday.
The group of girls between 13 and 17 years old, all unaccompanied by an adult, arrived on Saturday night at the convention center, the first emergency shelter to be set up in California in the midst of the incessant arrival of undocumented immigrants at the U.S. southern border.
On Saturday, the mayor of this city, Todd Gloria, said that up to 500 girls would arrive that day and that the center expects to house up to 1,400 U.S. migrant and asylum-seeking minors.
“It’s the right thing to do,” the mayor defended at a press conference, along with congressmen and local authorities, in which he referred to the parents of the immigrant minors: “They are parents who made impossible decisions, which you and I could not even imagine,” he added.
The shelter, opened in coordination with the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will house undocumented unaccompanied minors until mid-July, shortly before the first convention at the facility in August, according to the commitment signed with Joe Biden’s administration.
The Mexican consulate in San Diego confirmed that most of those to be housed in the convention center, located in the center of the city, are not originally from that country, so it is presumed that they are girls who have made a long journey to reach the United States.
San Diego joins other localities in the southwest of the country that have recently opened emergency shelters to house migrant minors due to the situation on the southern border.
As of Friday, some 17,000 undocumented unaccompanied minors were in the custody of the federal government, of which some 5,500 are being held in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) centers, according to figures released by the government.
This Sunday, Texas Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar said that CBP facilities remain overcrowded because of the “large number of people crossing the border every day.”
The legislator said that 71% of undocumented immigrants who crossed the border in the month of February are adults.
On the border, he said, “the cities, the counties, the NGOs, we are feeling the weight of what is happening with the families” of undocumented immigrants.
The Democrat, whose district covers areas along the dividing line, released photographs this week taken at a temporary shelter in Donna, Texas, showing, he said, the “terrible conditions” in which thousands of migrant minors in federal custody are being held.
Cuellar, who has criticized the government for its handling of the current wave of immigrants, explained that each of the eight zones into which the Donna shelter is divided has capacity for 260 people, but when the photographs were taken there was a sector with more than 400 migrant minors.