Migrants who are allowed to remain in the U.S. to pursue asylum are usually given a choice when they are released from detention in San Diego: Go to the Greyhound bus station or try to find a cot and a shower at a local shelter. Once migrants have been dropped off by Immigration and Customs Enforcement vans in border towns, they are no longer the federal government’s problem. President Trump has failed to end a practice he calls “catch and release,” and thousands of undocumented migrants apprehended at the border every month are still being granted routine entry to the U.S. while their cases are processed by immigration courts, reports the New York Times.
As the number of migrant families overwhelmed the government’s detention facilities, the Trump administration has drastically reduced efforts to ensure migrants’ safety after they are released. More families are being released with nowhere to stay, no money, no food and no means of getting to friends and relatives who may be hundreds or thousands of miles away. Federal officials say they are unable to do more to help the migrants, and local governments have been hesitant to get involved because of cost and potential liability. Stepping into the void has been a growing network of charities, from California to Texas. Dating to the Obama administration, churches and other nongovernmental organizations have strung together millions of dollars worth of assistance to help keep migrants off the streets and speed their reunion with family members. “The government isn’t doing anything — it’s been a total make-it-up-as-we-go thing,” said Kevin Malone of the San Diego Rapid Response Network, a consortium of faith-based nonprofits. “People are working 24 hours a day trying to make this happen. Everyone is strapped.”