San Diego County sues Trump administration over immigration policy

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the National Republican Congressional Committee Annual Spring Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 2, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

(Reuters) – San Diego County has filed a federal lawsuit against the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, accusing it of leaving thousands of asylum seekers stranded without help and straining county resources, officials said on Wednesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the National Republican Congressional Committee Annual Spring Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 2, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The suit, filed by the county’s Board of Supervisors in the U.S. Distict Court in Southern California, asks a judge to issue an injunction ordering the federal government to resume its “Safe Release” program which ended in October.

The program had helped people seeking asylum reach relatives in the U.S. or connect with charities dedicated to helping migrants.

“The county formally filed a lawsuit this afternoon over this issue,” board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob wrote on Twitter.

The county has already spent over 1.3 million dollars operating a downtown shelter to accommodate asylum seekers, she wrote. “That figure is ballooning by the day.”

Immigration along the U.S. border with Mexico has been a key issue for the Trump administration, where the president has said he wants to curb undocumented migrants from entering the U.S.

Jacob wrote on Twitter that the president’s policy had left border communities and local taxpayers “holding the bag.”

Board member Nathan Fletcher told the Washington Post that 11,000 asylum seekers have come through the local shelters since November.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Neilsen was named in the suit along with senior officials in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol, the Post reported.

Neither immigration officials or a representative for the Trump administration could be reached early Thursday for comment.

Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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