California Governor to Increase Help for Migrants

Created: 23 January, 2019
Last update: 27 July, 2022

By Marielena Castellanos

Help for asylum seekers arriving in California could be on the way under a proposal by newly-elected California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Under his proposed budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, $25 million would be set aside for a community-based rapid response program for nonprofit first responders helping migrant families seeking asylum in the U.S.

If approved, language in the State Budget says the funds would be available over a three-year period to assist qualified community-based organizations and nonprofit entities in providing services during immigration or human trafficking emergency situations when federal funding is not available.

The funds would also be available to support the redirection of state-level staff who directly assist in response efforts. The State Budget also includes one-time funding of $5 million to address immigration-related emergencies that occur during the current 2018-19 fiscal year.
“Every person who presents themselves for asylum protection at our border or port of entry has a fundamental right to just and humane treatment. We commend Gov. Newsom for his determination to safeguard this human right and his proposed allocation of much-needed emergency funding to address the crisis at the border,” Norma Chávez-Peterson, Executive Director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, said in a statement.
The funding proposal comes as a new caravan of almost 2,000 Central Americans is making its way to the United States border, less than three months after a different caravan with thousands more migrants arrived in Tijuana, a majority of them from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador looking to escape persecution, violence and poverty.

It also comes as a partial government shutdown continues as President Trump pushes for $5.7 billion to fund a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Shelters in Tijuana and in San Diego have been reported to be over capacity, with thousands of migrants believed to be released on the streets in San Diego by the federal government without food, or a place to stay, or knowledge of where to go for help.

Concerns over those releases have led to complaints and calls for help from a number of local community organizations which help migrants in the U.S.

The Los Angeles Times reported this week that a large part of the state funding could come to a coalition of organizations in San Diego as part of the San Diego Rapid Response Network (SDRRN), which provides help to asylum-seeking migrants who have been granted temporary legal entry into the U.S. as they await asylum proceedings.

The San Diego Rapid Response Network is made up of a number of human rights, service organizations, attorneys and community leaders including Casa Familiar in San Ysidro, Casa Cornelia Law Center, Catholic Charities of San Diego, San Diego City College, SEIU Local 221, the ABA Immigration Justice Project, the North County Immigration Task Force and the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties, among other organizations.

Since late October, SDRRN says it has served more than 5,200 people, the majority being families with children. Just two weeks ago it said it sheltered 494 asylum seekers.

SDRRN is applauding Governor Newsom’s proposal, but says it’s also still in need of private support as well and has set up a page online for donations at or

“Gladly, California will once again lead by example with proactive solutions to very real problems caused by the Trump administration’s callous, deeply-flawed immigration policies. The ACLU looks forward to working with the Newsom administration and leaders in the California legislature to ensure the wellbeing and dignity of migrant families in our state,” Chávez-Peterson also said.