Overwhelmed by record numbers of asylum seekers from around the world, U.S. border officials have released thousands of migrants on streets in the San Diego area the past month, including about 1,400 in the beach town of Oceanside.
Twice a day, Customs and Border Protection vans or buses drop off asylum seekers at the transit center in Oceanside, a city of 172,000 about 50 miles (80 km) north of the border, say humanitarian organizations and volunteers who welcome the migrants and help them reach destinations elsewhere in the U.S.
They are among some 18,500 people released on the street in the San Diego area since Sept. 13, according to local government officials and legal and humanitarian organizations that have been in contact with CBP.
The arrivals farther from the border show how communities in different parts of the United States can find themselves directly involved in the immigration crisis. Local leaders are clamoring for more federal funds to help absorb the migrants, while the political debate over immigration is certain to intensify ahead of presidential and congressional elections in November 2024.
U.S. border officers picked up more than 204,000 migrants in the San Diego sector in the 11 months through August, up 27% from the same period of the previous year. Many of the new arrivals are seeking asylum status, which requires they prove they need protection from persecution in their home country. Asylum immigration courts are granting fewer than 15% of petitions.