The invasion of Ukraine has resulted in a humanitarian crisis in the region already overwhelmed by internally displaced people, refugees and asylum seekers. Now, many more have been forced to flee their homes as violence escalates and civilian populations become increasingly at risk. These individuals join the roughly 80 million displaced men, women and children around the world who remain in immediate danger – fleeing war, persecution and danger.
The San Diego Rapid Response Network (SDRRN) Migrant Shelter Services, operated by Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFS), has welcomed asylum seekers from around the world – including Eastern Europe – since launching in October 2018, and continues to do so.
As a result of the implementation of Title 42 in March 2020, the U.S. government continues to wrongfully expel asylum seekers from many countries around the world. Whom Title 42 applies to has evolved over the last two years and is largely dependent on which nationalities Mexico is willing to receive back in addition to which countries have agreed to accept Title 42 expulsion flights. Because of this, arrivals into SDRRN Migrant Shelter Services have skewed higher from Eastern European countries, making the disparate impact of Title 42 depending on nationality even more severe.
Starting in summer 2021, arrivals from Eastern Europe released into our care increased. We anticipate the increased number of Eastern Europeans coming through our shelter will continue, as seeking asylum at the southern border is the only option available to many in the short-term given the lengthy refugee resettlement process, which can take years.
In the coming days as the plight of Ukrainians and other Eastern Europeans continues to unfold – among many other conflicts and humanitarian crises across the world – Jewish Family Service of San Diego stands at the ready to “Welcome the Stranger.” We call on the U.S. government to immediately end Title 42 and stop inhumanely expelling asylum seekers and migrants arriving at the U.S. border.
All guests released into JFS’s care by the Department of Homeland Security – regardless of their nation of origin – are going through the legal process of seeking asylum in the U.S. SDRRN Migrant Shelter Services provides case management, travel and financial assistance, and legal support as needed. Asylum seekers and immigrants receive COVID-19 testing and health screenings, following public health guidelines. Guests also have the option to receive a vaccine.
For the latest weekly data on arrivals to SDRRN Migrant Shelter Services, including the top countries of origin, visit rapidresponsesd.org/shelter-services.
Since October 2018, SDRRN Migrant Shelter Services has assisted more than 58,000 people – mostly families with young children – providing respite and helping them reunite with loved ones across the U.S. These people would have otherwise been released by federal authorities on the streets of San Diego without food, shelter, transportation or other support and resources.
Funds are desperately needed to maintain vital operations of shelter services and to support cross-country travel expenses of migrant families. Donations of any amount can be made at rapidresponsesd.org. Visit jfssd.org for volunteer opportunities to support this work.