On Sunday, Feb. 4, 60 Minutes Overtime featured a story that we at SBCS are immensely proud of. As part of a broader story on immigration at the U.S.-Mexico Border, the weekly online show, which is an extension of the iconic “60 Minutes” television broadcast program, delved into the heart of SBCS’ mission, showcasing our commitment to providing crucial support for migrants on their journey to their final destinations and loved ones.
The spotlight on SBCS came to life through an insightful interview with CBS News Journalist and 60 Minutes correspondent Shayrn Alfonsi. Alfonsi toured the SBCS-led Migrant Welcome Center located in San Diego in mid-January, accompanied by our President and CEO Kathie Lembo. During their nearly two-hour visit, Lembo shared profound insights into our work and mission.
The segment centered around the journey of migrants after they cross the border, exploring the pivotal role the Migrant Welcome Center plays once they are cleared by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. During the interview, Alfonsi asked Lembo a crucial question, “What do they need when they get here?”
Lembo, reflecting on the diverse needs of the 600 to 800 migrants arriving daily, highlighted the individuality of each situation. “Some just need to charge their phone and they are self-sufficient… Others will say to us, ‘I need help, I’ve never done an airline ticket before; I have this much money for my airline ticket,’ and so we help them get an airline ticket and also contact their sponsor.”
Crucially, the Migrant Welcome Center, funded by the County of San Diego under the leadership of San Diego County Board of Supervisor’s Chair Nora Vargas, offers fundamental services such as food, toiletries, and through-transportation to migrants processed by Border Patrol. This support is vital, preventing hundreds of individuals from being stranded in San Diego without the support they need to continue their journey.
Lembo emphasized the significant positive impact of the Center, stating, “Border Patrol was dropping them off at our [San Diego County] transit stations, [800 to 900] people a day… You can imagine the impact on those [neighboring] communities. [The migrants] need help from us arranging onward travel for them. So, what we are doing is having a place that has no effect on any community… We are self-contained here so that people can move on to the next phase of their journey. Only .05% of the people who have come here since Oct. 11 [when the Center first opened its doors] have stayed in San Diego.”
As a community-based nonprofit organization serving San Diego County for more than 53 years, SBCS provides a comprehensive range of services for children, youth, and families, with the Migrant Welcome Center operating seven days a week. The Center is made possible through the dedicated support of approximately 55 employees, numerous volunteers, and about a dozen partner non-governmental organizations.
Lembo sums up the ethos of SBCS in a post-interview reflection: “We don’t care where the migrants who come to us for support originate. What we care about is offering support and resources that affirm their human dignity and support their safe, ongoing journey to their loved ones and final destination.”
The 60 Minutes spotlight has given us an opportunity to share our story and mission with a wider audience, and we are grateful to our partners, funders, donors, staff and volunteers for their help to make a positive impact on the lives of those in need.
Watch the segment on 60 Minutes Overtime.