ICYMI: Remarks Delivered By Rep. Peters At The Emergency Intake Facility Being Established in San Diego
March 26, 2021
SAN DIEGO – Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) joined local leaders at the San Diego Convention Center to tour the temporary intake site being set up by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) for migrant children. The tour was followed by a press conference, where Rep. Peters delivered the remarks below:
“As some of you may know, my father is a retired Lutheran minister. It’s not unusual for me to think about circumstances such as this – when we are called upon to care for the most vulnerable – as we begin Holy Week tomorrow.
I know my colleague Juan will say the same. Juan often quotes from the Book of Mathew: “For I was hungry, and you gave me food: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in.” That’s what I’m thinking of today as we prepare to shelter some hundreds of God’s children, for just a little while.
I have visited refugee and child intake facilities in Texas and other parts of California over the years, and it is no secret that Border Patrol facilities were just not built to house children. Frankly, they weren’t built to house anyone for any extended period of time.
I want to thank the Biden Administration for looking for better quarters than we’ve had, and I want to thank Mayor Gloria and the City of San Diego, and Chairman Fletcher and the County of San Diego, for saying yes.
This is not the answer to immigration reform, or asylum reform, or even the answer for the hundreds of girls who will rest their heads here over the next few months. My colleagues here before you are committed to repairing our broken immigration system.
The House passed two significant bills to do this already, and we are working on others, and we hope fervently that the Senate will join us to reform immigration for the benefit of our border and our economy.
Our action here today and over the next few months is not that fix. This is a moment of compassion, neighbor to neighbor.
This Convention Center is located within the Congressional District I represent, and it’s not lost on me that it used to be represented by one of the most anti-immigrant members of Congress. Yet, here we stand, today, four of the five members of the San Diego delegation, alongside the Mayor to say, welcome to these strangers, welcome to these children.
And we welcome them with a promise to do whatever we can to keep them safe until they get to their sponsor families or their next destination. And every bit of it is being reimbursed by the federal government.
FEMA and HHS are contracting directly with the service providers and covering all of the costs of this over its three-month lifespan, and then the federal government will cover the costs of getting this Convention Center put back together and ready to host its first Convention in over a year this coming August.
It will not be perfect, and it may have some challenges along the way. If it does, I hope the media and others will give grace and understanding and trust that everyone involved here is really trying to do the right thing for these kids.
I know I, as a member of Congress, have asked that I have access so I can see for myself how these young people are being treated and cared for. And I will report out what I see and insist that we do better if I think something isn’t right. But for now, I want to say how grateful I am that our city is showing compassion in this moment.
I’d now like to turn it over to my good friend who I’ve known and worked with for over 20 years now, Juan Vargas.”