SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Migrant advocates say they would like a chance to tour and inspect a new migrant processing center that just opened in south San Diego, but their requests have gone unanswered.
“What we’re urging is for CBP to be transparent and allow community organizations to review and inspect the location,” said Pedro Rios, director of the San Diego-based American Friends Service Committee.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the new soft-sided facility is necessary to “safely and expeditiously process individuals in U.S. Border Patrol custody” in the San Diego Sector.
It was erected on federal land on Pogo Row just north of Brown Field Municipal Airport, about 3 miles from the border.
Rios admitted he and other advocates don’t know much about this facility.
“It’s not clear if migrants are being brought in from other sectors like Yuma or El Paso to be processed there or if it’s there to account for individuals that Border Patrol might be apprehending in San Diego,” he said.
CBP has not said much, other than describing the facility as a 130,786-square-foot facility with a holding capacity of approximately 500.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, it also said the center is weatherproof, climate-controlled, and has areas for eating, sleeping, and personal hygiene.
Border Report on Tuesday sought comment from CBP about the need for the processing center. In a statement, a CBP spokesperson said: “The San Diego Sector’s temporary soft-sided facilities allow the Border Patrol to increase processing capacity and provide more appropriate facilities for migrants.”
Rios is leary about the facility and has one primary concern.
“That the migrants’ human rights are respected where they are treated with dignity and respect, we don’t see that being the history of detention facilities under CBP at the moment,” he said.
CBP has not responded to our questions about whether community members might be allowed to tour the facility now or in the future.
In the meantime, asylum-seekers are protesting against the U.S. government’s required use of the CBP One mobile app, which allows migrants to set up appointments to begin their asylum cases.
Rios said one demonstration took place Tuesday afternoon at the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana.
“It’s a complete disaster for migrants,” said Rios of the app.
He, other advocates and the migrants themselves have complained the app has many technical issues and provides few appointment opportunities.
“Sometimes, you can only use the app once on a phone or tablet or if you have a big family, it won’t let you input all the information,” he said. “Face recognition has also been a problem.”
Rios questioned the federal government’s need for this app.
“For the U.S. government to depend on an app to ensure everyone who wants to apply for asylum will be able to do so, it’s not realistic,” said Rios. “We’re seeing it’s not efficient to account for he needs that migrants have, unfortunately, it doesn’t appear the U.S. government is taking those complaints into consideration.