San Diego Faces Migrant Release Crisis, Over 125,000 Affected

 April 9, 2024

In San Diego, California, a significant and controversial event has unfolded over the past six months, leading to wide-ranging discussions and concerns.

Over 125,000 migrants have been released into San Diego by federal authorities without thorough vetting, prompting worries over national security.

According to the New York Post, Jim Desmond, a San Diego County Supervisor, has brought this issue to the public, indicating that the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents are at their limit.

He says these releases are part of a larger trend of approximately 250,000 migrants set free into the community since September 2023. Noteworthy is that this tally does not include certain groups like families, elderly individuals, or those arriving by boat, suggesting the real number could be even higher.

This situation arises when the CBP is experiencing significant resource shortages, particularly in key areas such as Jacumba. The agency has been compelled to release migrants from detention within 24 to 48 hours, a timeline drastically shortened from the usual 72 hours required to conduct proper vetting processes.

Migrants at the Airport: A Symptom of a Larger Issue

The repercussions of these releases are palpably felt across San Diego, with the airport becoming a makeshift shelter for many migrants. This situation stems from the inability to properly house and process these individuals, leading to them loitering and sleeping in public spaces. February's data revealed an 85% surge in border encounters compared to the previous year, with over 230,000 encounters recorded in fiscal year 2023.

Jim Desmond criticized the current administration's handling of the situation, arguing that it undermines the enforcement of existing laws. He fears that individuals who pose security threats could easily slip through without proper vetting. Desmond's concerns are amplified by the tragic case of Laken Riley, an Augusta University student allegedly murdered by Venezuelan migrant Jose Ibarra, which he cites as a direct consequence of these policies.

Desmond highlighted the rising number of migrants on the terror watchlist attempting to enter the U.S., a figure that underscores the potential risks associated with inadequate vetting procedures. “If seeking asylum, you’re supposed to be detained until that is found to have validity. We’re not doing that now,” he stated.

The National Security Risk of Inadequate Migrant Vetting

Recent data illustrating a record number of migrants on the terror watchlist trying to enter the U.S. has alarmed officials and citizens alike. Nearly 7.3 million encounters have been logged at the border under the current administration, depicting a persistent and escalating challenge.

The inherent complexity of this situation is further complicated by the stark increase in border encounters, notably in the San Diego sector. This sector alone reported more than 230,000 encounters in the fiscal year 2023, marking an 85% increase compared to the previous year.

In facing this unprecedented scenario, Desmond vehemently argues for reevaluating and stricter enforcement of existing immigration laws. His concerns reflect a broader apprehension regarding the potential for individuals with harmful intentions to exploit the system's current vulnerabilities.


Over 125,000 migrants have been released into San Diego without adequate vetting, a situation driven by overwhelmed Customs and Border Protection agents. This issue, exacerbated by resource shortages and policy criticisms, poses visible societal impacts and raises serious national security concerns.

The increase in encounters with migrants on the terror watchlist and the tragic case of Laken Riley are poignant reminders of the potential consequences of current policies. As the debate continues, the call for stronger enforcement of immigration laws and better resources for border protection agents remains central to addressing these challenges.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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