Asylum-seekers have started arriving in Riverside County following the end of the controversial Trump-era policy known as Title 42.
Border officials had been anticipating an increase in migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, and Riverside County is no exception.
The county has a processing center in Murrieta, where workers are bracing for the influx, putting further strain on the already overburdened immigration system.
At the processing center, asylum-seekers who enter through various ports of entry are initially processed by border control facilities.
Once processed, Riverside County officials, along with nonprofit organizations, take custody of the asylum-seekers for a few days to provide them with safety net services.
These services aim to support them until they can be transferred to their asylum partners across the country.
However, the safety net in place is currently stretched to its maximum capacity.
Asylum-seekers are transported from the border patrol facility in Murrieta to hotels in the area by smaller vans operated by Riverside County officials.
Despite the temporary stay in Riverside County typically lasting one to three days, the process becomes challenging due to the high volume of arrivals.
With at least 200 people entering the system daily and only 300 available beds countywide, resources are strained.
Shane Reichardt from the Riverside County Emergency Management Department explains that they also connect asylum-seekers with their sponsors, who usually reside in other parts of the country and financially support their journey.
However, with the processing time taking up to three days, the limited capacity becomes apparent.
Brook Federico, a county spokesperson, warns that reaching capacity could result in Border Patrol dropping off asylum-seekers on the side of the road.
This occurred twice last year when the system was overwhelmed, and migrants were released into the Coachella Valley near bus stations without assistance, resources, or supervision.
Federico clarifies that the decision to conduct drop-offs and determine their location lies with U.S.
Customs and Border Protection and is not made at the local level.
It’s important to note that this situation only pertains to asylum-seekers entering the country through ports of entry and does not address those entering illegally.
The Border Patrol estimates the number of illegal entries to be close to 10,000.