The latest state to receive news that it will be targeted for redistributing the surge of migrants at the southern border is California, perhaps the most enthusiastic in the nation for illegal migration. Time reports that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the move on Friday.
According to the AP report at Time, CBP will fly migrants three times a week from the Rio Grande Valley border sector (around El Paso) to San Diego:
Flights from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley to San Diego were to begin Friday and continue indefinitely three times a week, with each flight carrying 120 to 135 people, said Douglas Harrison, the Border Patrol’s interim San Diego sector chief.
For months, CBP has been busing hundreds of migrants at a time from El Paso to other cities in Texas, the state currently being hit the hardest by the flood of migrants coming from Central America. With a schedule of flights to other states, the Department of Homeland Security is trying to spread the workload for federal agencies and tap the capacity for absorption of the human flow in other communities. CBP is also looking at Detroit, Miami, and Buffalo, New York as destinations.
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The migrants will have very little processing before they are moved:
Agents in the Rio Grande Valley will collect biographical information and do a medical screening before sending migrants to San Diego on flights contracted by ICE, Harrison said. Migrants will go from San Diego International Airport to a Border Patrol station, where they will be fingerprinted, interviewed and screened again for medical problems. Processing at the station typically takes hours.
ICE will decide whether to release or detain the families in San Diego.
As with everything being tried in the current surge, this method was previously used by the Obama administration. In 2014, Obama’s DHS agencies flew migrants between border sectors to redistribute the processing and release load.
In April 2019, President Trump announced that he would send migrants to be released in sanctuary cities, as long as the migrant surge continues to exceed the holding capacity of federal agencies, which is limited by Congress and the 1997 Flores court settlement.
Trump has made arrangements with Mexico for as many asylum applicants as possible to wait in Mexico instead of being released into the U.S., but the enormous surge of the last year is still swamping CBP, ICE, and the immigration court system. Trump’s arrangement with Mexico is also being challenged by activists in federal court, although it is currently in force while the appeals process is underway. (In a somewhat humorous sequence, the day Trump confirmed his original tweet about sending migrants to sanctuary cities, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals immediately ruled that his arrangement with Mexico could remain in force for the time being. That kept thousands of migrants from being moved under court order into the United States, where the only option would be to release them.)
San Diego is not a sanctuary city, although its city council has shown friendliness in court to sanctuary activism. San Diego County, for its part, actively rejects “sanctuary” status.
California’s entirely Democrat-controlled state government voted in 2017 to make California a “sanctuary state.” But San Diego County in April 2018 joined a federal and multi-state lawsuit against California’s sanctuary laws, which prohibit most local cooperation with federal border-security and immigration enforcement activities. (Like sheriffs in most parts of the country, almost all of California’s strenuously opposed ending cooperation programs with ICE and CBP.)
San Diego’s open-borders activists hope to take the additional migrants sent to California in stride. In this, they presumably expect to have help from the state. In 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed adding millions for migrant services to the state’s expenses, including $260 million for expanding access to Medicaid (MediCal, in California), regardless of immigration status.
The governor’s most dramatic effort to aid the undocumented, however, may be his pardons of violent felons to prevent the U.S. government from deporting them due to illegal immigration status. As the California sheriffs would probably tell him, hurrying felons out of the penal and court systems doesn’t improve life for anyone but the felons. But at least the Golden State will have more opportunities to compile observations on this phenomenon, with hundreds of migrants arriving three times a week after minimal processing at their U.S. point of entry.