After facing push-back for its plans to build a migrant tent city on private farmlands, San Diego County scrapped the initiative and asked farmers to “please disregard” it.
The Washington Examiner reported this week that San Diego County officials were soliciting private farmers for farmland to house “immigrants coming across the border,” according to one email.
The San Diego County Department of Agriculture, Weights, and Measures sent the email to more than 100 county farmers on Wednesday, asking for volunteers to rent their land on a long-term basis.
Immediately after the plan became public knowledge, the county claimed the offer was a “mistake” and blamed the state of California.
Officials also claimed the proposed “tent city” was never going to be a tent city, but was instead going to be a “soft structure build out” to house a COVID testing center.
“I don’t believe them because a COVID site in the middle of farmland is not practical,” said Carl DeMaio, a local activist who first published the county’s emails.
“Open land was never envisioned or intended to be used as temporary living space,” county officials said in a follow-up email to the farmers. “In summary, the State has advised the County they are no longer pursuing a search for agricultural or open land.”
County Supervisor Jim Desmond, a Republican, said he was shocked to learn about the county’s plans.
“I am working with county staff to make sure this DOES NOT become a reality,” he said in a statement. “While the federal government needs a solution to the immigrants coming across the border, putting tent cities on agriculture land is not the solution.”
San Diego County is already housing 1,450 children who came across the southern border in Texas at the San Diego Convention Center. The county also created a $5 million fund on Tuesday to provide free legal services for migrants to fight deportation.