SAN DIEGO — The California Department of Social Services (DSS) is now using a San Diego hotel as a temporary shelter for migrants who have arrived in the U.S. from Mexico.
The DSS says its use of the Wyndham Garden hotel in San Diego's Midway District is part of the state's effort to help border communities. However, it has some people in the area a little concerned.
"This a large property in the middle of a very busy community," said Cathy Kenton said, the Chair of the Midway Pacific Highway Community Planning Group.
She said several people in the community started noticing changes at the Wyndham Garden hotel a few weeks ago.
"They're limiting access to the location. There are buses coming and going," Kenton said.
A green fence currently surrounds the property on Sports Arena Boulevard, closing it off to the public. White tents are set up inside, and security guards are posted at the entrance.
A spokesperson with DSS said the site serves as an intake hub for migrants released from federal custody, providing them with COVID-19 testing, medical screenings and travel.
The Wyndham became operational to serve migrants last month.
"There's certainly, in my personal opinion, nothing wrong with what they're doing, but it seems to make more sense to be a little more open and forthcoming to the community in particular," Kenton said.
Kenton said that's because the community feels like they're being left in the dark about what's going on.
It wasn't until Scripps station KGTV in San Diego interviewed Kenton that she knew about the operations, despite reaching out to the shelter.
She said it's one of two reasons the community group is concerned.
"Two, It's not a very inviting use in the community as a closed-off, walled-off property," Kenton said.
See a full statement from the DSS below.
"While the federal government is the lead on all matters related to immigration, California is undertaking humanitarian and public health efforts in border communities to support the temporary sheltering and health and safety of arriving migrants. This work includes establishing arriving migrant intake hubs – such as the Wyndham site you reference – that provide basic wraparound services including COVID-19 testing, medical screenings, and the coordination of onward travel for migrant adults and families after they are released from federal custody. Since April 2021, local, county, and state agencies began supporting these non-governmental organization-led sites in Southern California."
The state Department of Social Services said Catholic Charities of San Diego runs the site. They did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This story was originally published by Nia Watson on Scripps station KGTV in San Diego.