ACLU Appeals Denial of Migrant Shelter in Escondido

A decision by the Escondido Planning Commission to reject a shelter for young, undocumented migrants received a formal appeal by the American Civil Liberties Union Friday.

The appeal to the city council was filed on behalf of non-profit Southwest Key, which spearheaded the effort. In it, the organization refutes each point of reasoning provided by the commission. For instance, the ACLU argues that the new facility would actually benefit the neighborhood by preventing an existing structure to remain vacant and claims it would generate less traffic than did the structure’s previous use. The ACLU also took issue with claims over security, noise, and the size of the facility, saying there was no basis for these concerns.

“The Escondido Planning Commission got it wrong on every count; none of its findings are substantiated by the facts,” said David Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. “We are appealing its ill-informed decision because when you do consider the specifics, the impact of the proposed facility would be virtually indistinguishable from that of the nursing home which operated on the same site for more than thirty years.”

The commission’s decision to deny a special land use permit for the facility came in a 6-0 vote last month. That vote sparked a protest by residents, many of whom expressed sympathy on the behalf of the children. At the time, the ACLU said the decision may constitute a violation of state and federal fair housing laws.  

The city council will now consider the proposal for the 96-bed shelter which would house migrants ages 6 to 17 who have recently been apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol. The council has 30 days to hear the appeal.

Read more about the appeal filed by the ACLU here.