Q&A on Asylum-Seeking Children and Families

San Diego is home to an urgent humanitarian situation, and we are asking the community for help.

Each day, about 40 families with children are being allowed into the country in the San Diego area to ask for asylum to escape danger in their home country.

Most of them have extended family or friends that can take them in, but some of them need help getting there. We estimate that 10 families a day will need some form of travel assistance, averaging about $100 per person ($500 per family).

Alliance San Diego is working with sister organizations to help these families with temporary shelter and travel assistance to get to their final destinations where they have court dates. To help alleviate the cost, Alliance San Diego has set up a travel fund, and we are reaching out to the community to donate to it. All donations to Alliance San Diego’s travel fund will be used for travel and are tax deductible.

Read the Q&A below to learn more about this critical situation, and how your donation will help these children and their families in their hour of need.

  1. Who are the people needing help? They are refugees, mostly from Central America, who are fleeing violence, including women fleeing sexual violence, and they believe their country is not willing or able to protect them.

  2. Are they part of the caravan? These families are not part of the big caravan traveling up through Mexico. Many are coming from the same places, but they came before the caravan. They are part of the regular flow of asylum seekers from around the world.  

  3. Will the caravan be coming here? We don’t know yet. If it comes to Tijuana, there is a good shelter network that will be expanded. Some of them will have asylum claims, and we are preparing to help them if they are allowed to enter.    

  4. How many people are in Tijuana waiting now? There are currently over 2,000 people waiting in shelters. Not all of them will be processed in - only those with asylum claims will be processed. As of now, adults without children are being detained to pursue their case. Only families with children are being released into the community, and only a certain amount every day.

  5. Is this a new phenomenon? No, San Diego has long been a receiving community for asylum seekers and others seeking protection. During WWII, we took in Jewish children fleeing the holocaust. During the Vietnam war, we took in Vietnamese refugees after the fall of Saigon. In the last twenty years, we have taken in people arriving to our border from all over the world who are fleeing danger.

  6. Why do we take people in? That is our moral and legal obligation under international treaties. That is who we are. As a receiving community, we have helped people in their hour of need for many years.

  7. Will the families entering now stay in San Diego? Most of them will go to extended family or friends in other parts of the country. Less than 10% will stay here. As the initial community to receive them, we have the chance to help them get to their final destinations.

  8. Why do they need our help? They arrive with few resources, often with only the clothes on their back. We help them connect with family and friends, but sometimes they don’t have resources to help with travel. That’s where we come in.

  9. Why should I help now? Because you can make a real difference. These families are traumatized and have been traveling for months. They cannot begin to pursue their asylum case until they reach a safe home and we can help them get there.

  10. What makes these refugees different from others? They are like others who have come before in that they fear for their lives, and their country is not willing or able to protect them. But they are coming at a time when the administration is responding with a show of force rather than a show of heart. We have a process to hear their claims, and troops will not make it faster or friendlier. We are filling the compassion gap.

  11. What does $100 cover, what about $500? For $100, you can help one person to travel to their final destination. For $500, you can help one family with children travel.

  12. Is this a crisis? Not yet, but if the families don’t have the resources to travel on and end up needing long-term shelter here in the San Diego area, we will have a shelter crisis. We do not have very much shelter space. If we can limit the temporary shelter to 24-48 hours by assisting people to travel, then we can avoid a shelter crisis.

  13. What is the urgency? Recently, US authorities stopped detaining families (which is a good thing). They then stopped giving people time or phone access to make plans to travel on once here. Authorities are releasing women, children, and families onto the streets of San Diego with no preparation. They are disoriented, hungry, tired, with few resources, and are very vulnerable. We have organized a response and the travel fund is part of that response.

  14. How can I donate? You can write a check to Alliance San Diego for the travel fund or donate online at: https://alliancesd.nationbuilder.com/families_travel_fund.

  15. Can I donate material items like clothes and food? At this time, we are not asking for material items - we have or are able to get what we need. Our biggest need is travel assistance and we appreciate any donation you can make.