SAN DIEGO — East County politicians and leaders gathered Thursday to discuss the impacts Title 42 ending could have on San Diego County.
The leaders are calling for a plan and more federal and state resources to be able to handle a possible influx of migrants.
“Our issue is making sure our communities aren’t damaged and we welcome people how they should be welcomed,” said Joel Anderson, San Diego County District 2 Supervisor.
“I understand their plight to have a better life, however, it needs to be done in an orderly legal fashion,” said Virginia Hall, Grossmont Health Care District Director.
Title 42 is a Trump-era immigration restriction that allows U.S. Border officials to rapidly expel hundreds of thousands of migrants without allowing them to seek asylum.
The order, which was put in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 inside the U.S., was set to expire Tuesday. It is now being stopped from being lifted by the U.S. Supreme Court on the request of 19 Republican-led states.
Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined Title 42 is no longer needed. A lower court order found Title 42 illegal.
Some local leaders are asking for Title 42 to remain in place, for now, arguing a possible influx would put stress on several aspects.
“This isn’t just a problem of dropping people off,” said Steve Goble, El Cajon City Councilmember. “This trickles down into, how are we going to educate them, provide health care for them? How are we going to make sure they aren’t victims of a crime because they don’t understand our culture?”
“Lots of these people want to work,” said San Diego immigration lawyer Narciso Cruz. “They are not here to take advantage of resources in this country. They want to work, they want to support themselves and contribute to this economy.”
Cruz said more legal assistance, and officials to screen and process migrants, among other resources, are in dire need before migrants make it to their destination cities. He argues people at the border have many odds against them.
“We have currently somewhat of a bottleneck, almost like a dam, that is filled with migrants seeking to have their opportunity to enter the U.S. and seek asylum,” Cruz said. “It’s a system that’s overwhelmed with people in removal proceedings, deportation proceedings. Currently, there’s about 2 million people in removal proceedings. There are only 700 judges to adjudicate these asylum claims.”
Cruz said people have the right to seek asylum.
“There also families, these are children, these are elderly people, these are people from all walks of life, who just want refugee in this country, who want protection who want to escape persecution, torture, mistreatment in their country,” Cruz said. “These are people who are very humble many of them do not have criminal history records.”
It is unclear how many migrants could enter San Diego if Title 42 is lifted.