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San Diego County Board of Supervisors sues Trump administration over asylum seekers after end of Safe Release



San Diego county's Republican-dominated board of supervisors filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the Trump administration, claiming that policy changes in the way the federal government treats asylum seekers have strained the city's finances and health services.

The Trump administration ended the so-called "Safe Release" program in October, which gave asylum seekers who had crossed the border assistance in reaching final destination with family members and friends, the lawsuit noted. [NowlargenumbersofasylumseekersandaccompanyingfamilymembersareforcedtoremaininthecountywithoutsufficientmeanstosupportthemselvesbecauseDefendantsabruptlystoppedprovidingasylumseekerswithassistanceinreachingtheirfinaldestination”itreads"InresponsetoDefendants'suddenandunlawfulchangeinpolicytheCountyhasbeenforcedtoexpendsubstantialfundsandotherresourcestoprovidemedicalscreeningandtotheasylumseekers"

The lawsuit, which was filed in District Court in Southern California, amounts to one more rebuke of the Trump administration's harsh immigration policies and rhetoric by a border city.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was named in the suit along with leadership at agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and the Border Patrol. The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment.

The county board voted in February to sue the Trump administration over the program's end. The vote was 4 to 1, with three of the board's four Republicans joining one newly elected Democrat in supporting it.

In Nogales, Ariz., Officials formally agreed on the installation of six rows of razor wire. side of existing border fence in the city, saying they feared it made residents less safe. El Paso, county officials passed a resolution saying they were disillusioned by President Trump's claims about the supposed lawlessness and dangers of the border.

In San Diego, the county had the safe release program meant to find a place to shelter the 20 to 30 family units (60 to 80 parents and children) that have been released in the county each day since October 2018, according to the complaint. Since December, county health workers have been screening asylum seekers, many of whom have been staying at a county shelter created out of an old courthouse it leased to a nonprofit. About 75 screenings are conducted by 14 county employees assigned to the shelter each day, according to the lawsuit.

“We have an obligation to take care of these families who have gone through so much – we can't let them become victims of human trafficking or become homeless, ”said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, a newly-elected Democrat whose district includes the shelter. “This is the federal government's responsibility. Donald Trump's inhumane immigration policies have been created entirely. ”

Fletcher said 11,000 legal asylum seekers have come through shelters in San Diego since November, with an average stay of 72 hours.

Before the Safe Release policy ended , “ICE would transport the traveling asylum seekers directly to the departure points for their prearranged mode of transportation, such bus stations, train stations, and airports, facilitating an orderly release process. ICE would also provide a minimum amount of food for asylum seekers for their journeys to their final destinations, "the lawsuit states.

Other supervisors did not return requests for comment.

The county has spent more than $ 1.3 million operating the Dianne Jacob wrote on Twitter

"The federal government's negligent approach to seeking asylum is taking a huge toll on San Diego County taxpayers," she said.

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