Moving Forward Together


Mar 17 2023

East County Magazine

A federal court has largely denied the Biden administration’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought JFS and the Immigrant Defenders Law Center on behalf of thousands of asylum seekers who have been stranded outside the United States because of the “Remain in Mexico” program. JFS is praising the judge’s decision. “Asylum seekers should have access to protection in the U.S.,” says Luis Gonzales, JFS Directing Attorney for Immigration Defense, “instead of being left in perilous situations across the border when they are already fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries. We must get back to centering humanity.”

Mar 5 2023

Times of San Diego

The Senior Gleaners of San Diego County is looking for volunteers to help harvest unwanted citrus fruit from thousands of local trees. The fruit, which would otherwise go wasted, is sent to a network of nonprofits that feed thousands of people. “We are almost through with the tangerines, now come the lemons and oranges,” said Margaret Burton, president of the group.

Feb 23 2023

Times of San Diego

The San Diego Rapid Response Network (SDRRN), a coalition of humanitarian organizations led by Jewish Family Service, is condemning a new Biden Administration proposal that will deport asylum seekers who enter the country illegally, or who did not first seek protection in the countries they passed through. “What the administration has announced today is essentially an asylum ban — a reprehensible step backwards,” the coalition said. “Asylum seekers are not the enemy; our broken immigration system is.”

Feb 20 2023

The San Diego Union-Tribune

The State of California will begin phasing out financial support for migrant medical screening centers including the San Diego Rapid Response Network Migrant Shelter Services, which is operated by Jewish Family Service. The shelters provide medical screenings, along with COVID testing and vaccinations for migrants seeking asylum. Governor Gavin Newsom says the state can no longer afford to contribute and that he is lobbying the Biden administration to increase aid. “We’re continuing our operations and again calling on all levels of government to make sure that there is an investment,” says Kate Clark, senior director of immigration services for Jewish Family Service of San Diego.

Feb 18 2023

The San Diego Union-Tribune

The film “Seeking Asylum: A Mother’s Journey” is available on Amazon, iTunes and other platforms beginning Feb. 21. As Kate Morrissey reports, filmmakers Rae Ceretto and Kelly Scott initially had to call JFS’s immigration attorneys for guidance in order to understand the complexities of the case. JFS attorneys subsequently decided to represent the woman, who was obligated to stay in Mexico while her case was making its way through the courts, but was released in America when the border was closed by the pandemic.

Feb 7 2023

FOX 5, ABC 10 News, Times of San Diego, Border News, Voice of San Diego

In a unanimous vote, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a comprehensive plan sponsored by Chairwoman Nora Vargas and Supervisor Joel Anderson to ensure that asylum seekers and refugees have access to the resources they need if federal enforcement of Title 42 is ended. The Rapid Response Network, operated by JFS, has welcomed 125,000 asylum seekers since 2018. “Let’s put politics aside,” JFS CEO Michael Hopkins told the Supervisors, “and get back to what matters: Treating people with dignity and humanity.”

Feb 6 2023

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Ashley Frez-Clark, director of the SDRRN Migrant Shelter Services operated by Jewish Family Service, says government officials need to create solutions to support asylum seekers in the US. “The immigration system and its policies for seeking asylum continue to change,” she says, “without consideration of the impact on those needing asylum and the legal and humanitarian organizations supporting them.”

Feb 6 2023

The San Diego Union-Tribune

JFS’ directing attorney for immigrant legal defense and cross-border projects Luis Gonzales provides pro-bono legal representation for asylum-seekers, many of whom have stories he calls heartbreaking and horrifying. He criticizes the politicization of immigration courts, saying “It is a shameful time for a country that’s entire foundation is rooted in immigration, welcoming and diversity.”

Feb 5 2023

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Two local leaders on the Steering Committee of the San Diego Rapid Response Network are urging the County Board of Supervisors to support a proposal to provide needed resources for asylum seekers and refugees. Norma Chávez-Peterson, Executive Director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, and David Garcias, the former president of SEIU Local 221, are urging the Board of Supervisors to support the bipartisan response plan – sponsored by Supervisors Nora Vargas (a Democrat) and Joel Anderson (a Republican) – at the meeting on Tuesday, February 7.

Feb 5 2023

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Monica Garcia describes her ordeal fleeing her hometown of Colima, Mexico to escape her gun-obsessed husband’s violent attacks and death threats. Monica and her four children are being represented by Luis Gonzales, JFS directing attorney for immigrant legal defense and cross-border projects, and are living in temporary housing in San Diego.

Jan 25 2023

San Diego Jewish World

JFS CEO Michael Hopkins, along with several other members of the San Diego Jewish community, testified in front of The San Diego County Board of Supervisors as they considered a proposal to provide a venue for a Holocaust exhibit focusing on Survivors who have settled in San Diego County. Hopkins stated that JFS staff “compassionately cares for Holocaust Survivors throughout San Diego to assure that they age with dignity and with their health, independence and connection to our community.” He noted the growing number of antisemitic incidents throughout the country, saying many Survivors now face challenges that can trigger memories of traumatic experiences. He expressed the hope that the Holocaust Remembrance exhibit will “bring attention to what can happen when antisemitism goes unchecked.” The Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of the exhibit, and to provide $25,000 in funding. The proposal was introduced by Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who called the exhibit “a commitment of us to stand against Holocaust denial and to stand against the spread of hate speech and disinformation.”

Jan 24 2023

Times of San Diego

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the creation of a Holocaust remembrance exhibit on county property Tuesday. Supervisors directed Helen Robbins-Meyer, chief administrative officer, to work with the Jewish Federation of San Diego on finding a location for the exhibit. Michael Hopkins, CEO of Jewish Family Services, said his organization “compassionately cares for Holocaust survivors,” who lived through one of the darkest periods in human history. He added that “lessons of recent years have taught us that it’s not enough to react — if we are not proactive against these forces that hurt and harm, they will continue to injure and even become deadly.”

Jan 24 2023

NBC 7 San Diego

The County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the creation of a Holocaust remembrance exhibit on county property and approved funding for the Jewish Federation to develop the year-long exhibit. Several community leaders spoke in support of the proposal, which was sponsored by Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, including JFS CEO Michael Hopkins. Supervisors were told that a memorial is especially important in light of recent attacks. “Lessons of recent years have taught us that it is not enough to react,” Hopkins said. “If we are not proactive against these forces that hurt and harm, they will continue to injure and become deadly.” JFS compassionately cares for about 400 Holocaust Survivors in San Diego County. Once a site is selected, the exhibit isexpected to open on April 17.

Jan 13 2023

The American Prospect

It’s the mayors who have stepped up as the leading problem solvers struggling with a genuine conundrum: What should an effective response to migrant issues look like for the affected cities and towns? A national coordination plan that designates a federal agency or a federally designated nonprofit with strong communications lines into specific cities and towns to handle arrivals’ needs once they are discharged would alleviate some of the chaos. For solutions to short-term emergencies, immigration advocates point to one San Diego organization as a leader in adapting its frameworks to handle the shifting demands of asylum seekers. Naomi Steinberg, an immigration advocate, has called the San Diego Rapid Response Network Migrant Shelter Services operated by Jewish Family Service of San Diego as “the gold standard” and told The San Diego Union-Tribune, “They have really shown organizations around the country how it can be done and how it should be done.”

Jan 11 2023

Voice of San Diego

The Vista City Council early this week approved a safe parking lot for people living in their vehicles. It’s the first of its kind for the city and the second in North County. The lot will be operated by Jewish Family Service of San Diego and is part of their Safe Parking Program. In addition to providing a safe overnight environment, JFS case managers will be on-site to help connect people with stable housing options. “We’re able to intervene and deliver services before folks experience further decline into the spiral of homelessness,” says JFS’ chief of staff Chris Olsen, who is expecting a high demand for the Vista lot. “Based on our experience operating the program in Encinitas, there’s definitely a strong need in North County,” he said.

Dec 30 2022

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Dana Toppel, Chief Operating Officer at Jewish Family Service, serves as a community board advisor for The San Diego Union-Tribune. She has a new year’s resolution for everyone, let’s be intentional about how we communicate with teens about mental health. As suicide rates continue to rise, we all can make a difference by reaching out to the teens we know.

Dec 28 2022

The San Diego Union-Tribune

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Border Patrol created mass disruptions at local transportation hubs by leaving hundreds of migrants at San Diego bus stations “without any support to reach their final destinations around the country.”

Normally, migrants stay no more than a few days in the care of local shelters before traveling on to their loved ones across the United States. But with winter weather and holiday travel — along with the collapse of Southwest Airlines’ flight schedule — shelters haven’t been able to move migrants onward as quickly as usual, meaning there is less capacity to receive new arrivals. When the shelters do not have enough space, they triage based on vulnerability, prioritizing families with children, among others.

“At this moment we are grateful to have regained some capacity,” said Kate Clark, JFS’ Senior Director for Immigration Services. “We know the ongoing national travel challenges persist and will be continually assessing capacity to welcome guests into our care post-release from the Department of Homeland Security.”

Dec 25 2022

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Due to flight delays from winter storms, migrant shelters haven’t been able to move guests through as quickly as normal and are now at capacity, meaning many new arrivals have been left on the streets.

Normally, after crossing the border, migrants who are released in the San Diego area go to one of two shelters, one run by the San Diego Rapid Response Network and the other by Catholic Charities. Both shelters provide hotel rooms for migrants to stay in due to pandemic precautions.

“These types of events are an important reminder that additional federal resources and meaningful reform are needed to support appropriate border infrastructure that reflects current needs,” Brian Ferguson of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said.

Dec 25 2022

The San Diego Union-Tribune

It’s a refrain heard often from people who suddenly fall into homelessness, and it’s being heard more and more these days.

For some, homelessness came about for economic reasons, such as with Robert Prokosh, who began living in his car when his rent went from $700 to $1,400 in one month. He and his wife moved into the Safe Parking lot operated by Jewish Family Service in Mission Valley.

For whatever reasons, more people are becoming homeless, and service providers across the county say they are seeing a surge in people seeking help. Why are so many people falling into homelessness for the first time? There is no one reason.

Dec 20 2022

AP News

JFS’ Kate Clark, senior director for immigration services, was interviewed about current uncertainties surrounding Title 42, and how looming legal changes will affect asylum seekers in the near future. Lack of information has led to rumors, confusion, and doubts about the government’s readiness to respond.

Dec 18 2022

The San Diego Union-Tribune

The San Diego Rapid Response Network Migrant Shelter operated by Jewish Family Service of San Diego recently welcomed its 100,000th guest since it opened four years ago to help asylum seekers. “It was a happiness to be here,” said 31-year-old Yolanda, who is fleeing cartel violence. “I feel safe.” The article illustrates our emphasis on welcoming and providing care for the most vulnerable of asylum seekers with public health as our top priority. “They are the gold standard,” said Naomi Steinberg of HIAS. “They have really shown organizations around the country about how it can be done and how it should be done.”

Dec 10 2022

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Since converting to a 24-hour lot, the Jewish Family Service Safe Parking lot in Mission Valley is serving more RVs, and now is the only lot in San Diego that currently accepts RVs. Chris Olsen, JFS chief of staff, said the majority of their clients are experiencing homelessness for the first time, about a quarter are older than 60, and many have full-time jobs.

Dec 1 2022

Voice Of San Diego

An audit on city towing practices and a viral story about two homeless mothers whose vehicles were towed are fueling debate over the efficacy of impounding vehicles serving as makeshift homes. Chris Olsen, JFS Chief of Staff, explains that JFS Safe Parking Lots do reach capacity. We hope that even when we are at capacity, we hope that anyone who needs a safe place to park can secure one.

Nov 29 2022


Jewish Family Service is featured in this list of ways to give back in San Diego for its volunteer opportunities helping to deliver meals to isolated older adults. From delivering meals to keeping older adults company, to helping refugees feel more at home, volunteers are needed in a number of positions. If you have a couple hours during the week, you too can give back to your community.

Nov 28 2022

Times of San Diego

Jewish Family Service is featured in the list of nonprofits to support on Giving Tuesday. JFS matched gifts up to a total of $250,000 to support programs for children, adults, families, seniors, refugees and immigrants.

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