SAN DIEGO — With concrete details to come as for exactly how many children will come to San Diego’s Convention Center and how soon, preparations are underway for their arrival.
“The convention center is a temporary fix, but one that is needed and welcomed. We know that 90 percent of the children have a family to go to, but there is a transition period, and the convention center provides a trusted place, and we have the space to meet the need,” said Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego.
The number of children showing up at San Diego's border is up 60 percent over last year with many fleeing Guatemala and Honduras wanting to request asylum in the U.S.
For Monday’s announcement of the shelter opening, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said, “We are going to do that because it's the right thing to do. These are children, some of them are very young, they're very vulnerable, and they need our help."
President Joe Biden says these surges at the border are seasonal and occur every year, but the amount of minors arriving this month alone is expected to reach historic levels.
"You have an unaccompanied child who ends up at the border, we're just going to let them starve to death and stay on the other side? I'm not going to do it,” Biden said during his first press conference in office.
The Biden Administration stated it is committed to allowing children to stay in the U.S. until their case is heard, so it turned to the city and county for help.
"I think that this is our obligation as a part of a humanitarian approach to ensure that we give these children an opportunity to see the best of America,” said San Diego County Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher.
San Diego's Convention Center housed thousands of people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic, and now plans are to provide the children food, medical care, a place to sleep, showers as well as a recreation area. The average child is expected to stay 30 to 35 days. Mayor Todd Gloria didn't hold back in saying this site should serve as a stark difference to images of detention centers currently in use elsewhere along the border.
"At the end of the day, what we have are young people who are in unacceptable conditions, and this condition can be better for them,” Gloria said.
The minors will not be allowed to leave the facility until reunification with family occurs.
“We are the largest refugee resettlement county in the country, and we have been historically, so we are much better equipped than most places,” said Guerrero, who has worked in immigration law and human and civil rights law for 30 years.
Once the children arrive, this site at the convention center is expected to remain open for three months.
WATCH: Unaccompanied minors up at San Diego border, lags parts of Texas: