Good morning, Chair Vargas and Supervisors.
My name is Norma Chávez-Peterson. I am the executive director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. I also serve on the steering committee of the San Diego Rapid Response Network.
The ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties supports the board letter submitted by Chair Vargas and Supervisor Anderson and its recommendations to:
- Develop a plan to ensure that people seeking asylum are treated with dignity and respect; and
- Ensure we have the resources necessary to meet their basic needs.
San Diego County is and always will be a community of fronterizos, a binational community where people frequently travel across the border for work, commerce and recreation.
We’ve not always embraced our fronterizo identity. Yet in October 2018 when SDRRN volunteers discovered large groups of migrants abandoned by immigration authorities on the streets of San Diego without food, shelter or the means to reach their loved ones in other parts of the country, our broad coalition sprang into action.
Launched in late 2017, SDRRN’s motto is “No one stands alone in our community.” One year later, we led by example, establishing the county’s first migrant shelter services.
- Operated by Jewish Family Service of San Diego, the SDRRN shelter has since welcomed and supported more than 120,000 individuals and families – as many as 200 people daily.
In December 2022, the federal government again released hundreds of people seeking asylum into San Diego streets. Our shelter was at capacity and there was simply no other plan or place to accommodate people exercising their legal and human right to be here. We are better than this.
Yes, immigration is a federal responsibility. Even so, our county government has civic and moral obligation to ensure that our region is prepared and has the necessary resources to welcome migrants with dignity and compassion.
The ACLU urges the Board of Supervisors to vote in favor of this board letter.
Thank you for your time and consideration.