The Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved $750,000 in funding for temporary shelter and other relief programs for undocumented immigrants brought into Riverside County by U.S. Customs & Border Enforcement and other agencies amid the ongoing border surge.
In a 5-0 vote without comment, the board authorized the Department of Housing, Homelessness Prevention & Workforce Solutions to distribute the funds as part of its Riverside County Asylum Seeker Response Program.
The allocation is intended to cover costs associated with “hotels and motels for isolation and quarantine, nutritional services … and wraparound services for asylum seekers impacted by COVID-19,” according to HHPWS.
The agency will retain $450,000 to cover the county’s direct expenditures, but the balance, $300,000, will go to the nonprofit Galilee Center in Mecca, which for the last two years has been providing shelter and related relief services for border crossers, officials said.
According to HHPWS, undocumented immigrants who are screened for COVID- 19 and determined not to pose an exposure risk are “directly placed into Galilee’s congregate shelter program” when federal agents release them from temporary custody.
Those who are infected or who have had known exposures are turned over to the county for a 12-day isolation period in a hotel or motel, with healthcare, meals and other services provided at no cost to them by taxpayers.
According to the Executive Office, since early March, more than 2,300 migrants apprehended at the Mexican border have been released into the county by federal agents. Officials estimate that over the next six months, another 6,900 border crossers will arrive in the county.
In the month of April alone, the CBP said nearly 180,000 people were apprehended attempting to enter the U.S. at the southern border. The migrant streams increased significantly after President Joe Biden signed executive orders in January rescinding former President Donald Trump’s immigration controls, including halting wall construction, according to published reports.
“The impacts of the border crisis are being felt around the country,” Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, said earlier this month. “If the (Biden) administration shut off the green light to people flocking to this country, it would solve much of the problem.”
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Temecula, said last week via social media that, “at President Biden’s urging, people from all over the world are illegally entering our country, advancing past those who play by the rules…
“This crisis won’t stop until we reinstate sensible border policies and make America’s national security a top priority,” he said.
The county’s other congressman, Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Coachella, has directly addressed the current border surge. “As Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), I was glad to lead a meeting with Vice President Harris today to discuss the root causes of migration from the Northern Triangle,” said Dr. Ruiz.
“The Biden-Harris Administration’s professional, humane, and smart method to address the root causes of migration is the right approach to reduce the cyclical nature of mass migration. I look forward to collaborating under Vice President Harris’ strong leadership to combat corruption and impunity, increase economic opportunity, reduce violence in the region, and provide humanitarian assistance for natural disasters.”
Ruiz sponsored legislation, which ultimately stalled in the Senate, that sought to establish clear health and welfare standards to ensure there is “humanity to our treatment of children and families seeking asylum.”
According to HHPWS, it is likely that the county will be able to recover most or all of the outlays for the migrant relief services by way of federal reimbursements, including funds from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act signed into law in March.
This article has been updated from a previous version that stated Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Coachella, had “not directly addressed the current border surge.”