'About $200K More': Increase In Border Crossings Costing Riverside County

The county said it had reached out to the federal government, which assured officials that most of the county's costs would be reimbursed.

Video Transcript

- The crisis at the border is getting worse by the day. CBS News says tonight 150,000 migrants were apprehended in March. Some asylum seekers are being allowed to stay. And they're being brought into the Southland.

- Yeah, those migrants are being moved to the border patrol station on Madison Avenue in Murrieta, also at the border station on West Hobson Way in Blythe. But they're not getting a warm welcome from all residents.

- Yeah, many locals believe it's a very irresponsible and expensive policy. Tonight, KCAL 9's Nicole Comstock with more.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: The border patrol station here in Murrieta has seen big protests over asylum seekers in the past. And once again, many locals think the government is handling the situation irresponsibly.

- [SPEAKING SPANISH]

NICOLE COMSTOCK: Migrant families who cross the border from Mexico to seek asylum in the United States are currently being cared for in Riverside County.

KELLY MOREHART: It's crazy. I think it is grossly irresponsible.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: Kelly Morehart thinks the government should focus on fixing the coronavirus-ravaged economy first.

KELLY MOREHART: I don't even know how they can even afford it. Where, are they just going to print up more money?

NICOLE COMSTOCK: For now, Riverside County, which has previously seen large protests against accepting migrants, is on the hook for the cost.

BROOKE FEDERICO: Our resources are strained. And it's not just the financial cost, but also available motel space.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: County spokesperson Brooke Federico says in the month of March, Border Patrol has handed over 171 asylum seekers to Riverside County. Hundreds have been processed at border patrol stations in Murietta and Blythe. Then the county has to pay to pick them up, test them for coronavirus, and secure a hotel for any people who test positive so they can isolate.

BROOKE FEDERICO: In 2019, it was about $75,000 a month. And so far for the month of March, we can say it was about $270,000. So it is about $200,000 more this time.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: The county reached out to the federal government, who assured them most of their costs will be reimbursed.

CLAUDIA CASTORENA: Just, I guess, the change in administration opened the channels of hope again for them.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: Claudia Castorena is the co-founder of the Galilee Center in the Coachella Valley, the main nonprofit sheltering the asylum seekers who test negative for coronavirus. She says they only stay in the county for a few days with a temporary permit before they connect with sponsors across the nation, and that it's important for Americans to understand why they're asking for help.

CLAUDIA CASTORENA: To be in a safe place, to escape violence or extreme poverty-- I mean, anybody any parent will do it for their children. Why wouldn't these people?

NICOLE COMSTOCK: Morehart says she has compassion for these families, but she's worried about the children.

KELLY MOREHART: Children, just children, unaccompanied. I mean, and the problem is is that it's endangering them on the way up here.

NICOLE COMSTOCK: We also reached out to US Customs and Border Patrol for a comment, but have not yet heard back from them. Reporting in Murrieta, I'm Nicole Comstock, KCAL 9 News.