Tucson Takes In Asylum Seekers

Published: Sunday, April 21, 2019 - 10:50am

Earlier this week, Tucson opened the doors of a recreational center to asylum seekers.

City spokesman Andrew Squire says Tucson officials didn’t have a choice nor did the nonprofit organizations that have provided help since the US Border Patrol started releasing migrants here last October. Squire says the agency warned the nonprofits that still more migrants were being released this week.

"They were bringing at least a few hundred folks and that if they didn’t have space for them, they were going to leave them all at the Greyhound bus station," said Squire.

That’s when Tucson offered up a recreational center. So far, the only cost to taxpayers is overtime for parks employees helping to staff the center.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials declined to be interviewed but said in a statement quote “All possible care is given to release migrants in a safe and humanitarian manner.” The statement read:

"CBP is facing an alarming trend in in the rising volume of people illegally crossing our Southwest Border. The arriving flow is made up primarily of Central American families and unaccompanied children. This stark and increasing shift to more vulnerable populations, combined with the overwhelming numbers, and inadequate capacity to detain families and children has created a humanitarian and border security crisis. The increase in apprehensions is taxing the entire immigration system, especially the capabilities of ICE and CBP, creating an untenable situation for both CBP personnel and migrants. 

"For the first time in over a decade, CBP is performing direct releases of migrants when ICE has reached capacity in order to proactively and adequately address the humanitarian and holding capacity issues. Tucson Sector Border Patrol relies on partnerships with local non-governmental organizations (NGO) to assist in this process. If NGOs are unable to assist, the Tucson Sector Border Patrol releases migrants to a carefully considered location offering minimal impact to the local community and the migrants being released. All possible care is given to release migrants in a safe and humanitarian manner."

Similar efforts by local governments are underway in California and New Mexico, where overwhelmed nonprofits and churches are also receiving help.

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