Jewish Family Service provides robust immigration legal services in addition to humanitarian and respite shelter for asylum seekers who have been released into the United States by the Department of Homeland Security. Since our founding in 1918, JFS has been committed to Welcoming the Stranger–we’ve assisted and connected thousands of refugees to housing, employment, and education. We know this work is essential to ensuring San Diego is a more humane, prosperous, and beautifully diverse place to live.
For more information visit the San Diego Rapid Response Network website at rapidresponsesd.org.
Please Note: The City/County effort to house unaccompanied minors at the San Diego Convention Center is a separate project that we are not involved in.
The San Diego Union-Tribune feature on March 26, 2021 takes an in-depth look at a day in the life of our work to receive families and adults who are coming into the United States from the ‘Remain in Mexico’ program as well as asylum seekers released by Border Patrol into San Diego. As of March 25, the SDRRN Migrant Shelter Services operated by JFS had received more than 2,000 people compared to 490 in all of February. This article illustrates our emphasis on welcoming and providing care for the most vulnerable of asylum seekers with public health as our top priority. The article captures the hopes and dreams of these families as they seek a better life.
Based on the current COVID-19 pandemic, asylum seekers released by the government will stay in individual hotel rooms for their short stay instead of joining other families in a congregant living setting at a shelter. In partnership with the San Diego Rapid Response Network, JFS will continue to provide case management, travel assistance, nutrition services, medical screenings, and financial support for migrant families.
The California Welcoming Task Force is a binational coalition dedicated to re-envisioning how the U.S. can welcome people seeking asylum safely and expeditiously at our border by coordinating across sectors: humanitarian, legal, health, advocacy and communications.
November 2018 – June 2020
In October 2018, Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) abruptly ended a program known as “Safe Release,” which helped asylum-seekers connect with friends and family in the U.S. as they waited for their court date. Abandoned on the streets of downtown San Diego, migrant families were now left vulnerable to crime and risked straining County resources by adding to our expanding homeless population. The San Diego Rapid Response Network (SDRRN) filled this critical gap in government assistance by opening temporary shelters in local churches. By mid-November 2019, ICE began coordinating with the SDRRN to drop-off migrant families at our shelter each afternoon once they had been legally processed.
Through these collaborative efforts with the SDRRN, the JFS Migrant Family Shelter was established and has kept thousands of migrant families off San Diego’s streets, ensuring they did not further strain the capacities of service providers who were assisting the region’s ever-growing homeless population.
Between October 2018 and June 2020, the shelter served more than 23,000 asylum seekers – all family units – and provided beds, food, clothing, health services, legal aid, and transportation assistance to help families connect with loved ones across the country as they continued their legal process to gain asylum.
Starting in June 2020, services for asylum seekers released by the government transitioned from a congregate shelter space to individual hotel rooms by JFS as part of the services it offers under the San Diego Rapid Response Network. We will continue to prioritize the needs of asylum seekers through targeted transition services and legal assistance, ensuring that No One Stands Alone In Our Community.
On October 1, 2019, we marked the one-year anniversary of the JFS Migrant Family Shelter. Take a look back at this incredible community effort to help asylum-seekers on their journey toward a better life.
At our 2019 Heart & Soul Gala, we honored the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties as one of our core partners in the SDRRN. Take a look at our tribute video to learn more about SDRRN, see how the JFS Migrant Family Shelter was started, and hear first-hand stories from asylum-seekers.
JFS continues to provide high-quality pro bono immigration legal services in the following areas:
Immigration Emergency Hotline: If you or someone you know is experiencing an immigration emergency (raid, arrest, checkpoint, and/or harassment) call the San Diego Rapid Response Network 24-hour hotline at (619) 536-0823.
Immigration Pro-Bono Legal Assistance: For non-emergency immigration legal assistance inquiries, please call (858) 637-3365 or email [email protected] This line is staffed by the legal team at JFS – give us a call today!
Asylum seekers arriving in our community are in desperate need of your help. They have traveled thousands of miles to flee violence, persecution, and other hardships in their home country in search of a safer, better life. The most impactful way to address this issue is with responsive and flexible funding. Your financial support will change lives.
Make a Donation
Online donations can be made through rapidresponsesd.org or the donate button below.
Checks can be mailed to:
Jewish Family Service of San Diego
C/O: San Diego Rapid Response Network
JOAN & IRWIN JACOBS CAMPUS
Turk Family Center
8804 Balboa Avenue
San Diego, CA 92123
Since 1918, JFS has provided resettlement assistance to refugees and asylum seekers from around the world. Getting them here is just the beginning – and volunteers are critical to the process.
The Union-Tribune investigates the challenges and importance of legal representation for asylum seekers who fall under Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), otherwise known as Remain in Mexico.
JFS is a core partner in the San Diego Rapid Response Network (SDRRN) to help vulnerable immigrants and their families in the San Diego border region. Learn more about SDRRN and how to get involved.