Escondido Planning Commission Says No to Immigrant Shelter

The City of Escondido has now taken center stage in the intense debate over illegal immigration. 

Tempers flared Tuesday after the Escondido Planning Commission voted 6-0 to reject a 96-bed facility for undocumented children and teens who have been apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol. 

The commission’s decision was not unexpected. The seven-member advisory board had previously denied a special land use permit to convert the facility—a former nursing home—into an immigrant shelter last month. Still, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says it may fight the decision. 

"We are investigating whether the city is breaking the law by refusing permission to do so," said ACLU Legal Director David Loy. He contends that the decision may constitute a violation of state and federal fair-housing laws aimed at preventing discrimination.  

Some 200 people descended on City Hall Tuesday, many urging the commission to reconsider its previous stance. 

"Shame on you!" shouted some members of the crowd following the vote.

Many residents expressed horror at the notion that their city would turn away minors. Resident Rigo Avelar, however, said the move was in Escondido’s best interest

"Where it was situated wasn't good for the neighborhood, wasn't good for the property value," he remarked. "There's nothing good about it."

The proposal was spearheaded by the non-profit organization Southwest Key. The group has 10 days to appeal the commission’s decision.

Read more about Tuesday’s vote here.