Officials from Yuma, Tucson await tent-like facilities for migrants

United States Customs and Border Protection

Construction of the Tucson Sector Border Wall in January 2020.

Local officials in Arizona say Tucson could soon host large tent-like facilities that can house unaccompanied migrant children and families after the Border Patrol gave them court dates and released them to the US

Comments from officials in Yuma and Tucson this week come as local authorities grapple with an influx of migrants being released at the border with Mexico.

The plants are expected to be in operation in mid-April.

Migrant arrivals have spiked in recent weeks, leading Republican politicians to criticize President Joe Biden for reversing some of Donald Trump’s tough immigration policies. Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls said this week that around 1,200 migrants were released into the rural community last month, far from any major cities with shelter to stay.

The reversal of immigration policy by the new government has sparked a tug-of-war among the partisans. A Latino civil rights group this week filed a federal lawsuit against Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich on behalf of nonprofit groups alleging his efforts to block Biden’s changes are unlawful.

Home Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday the U.S. is on track to meet more people at the border than it has in the past 20 years and will add facilities for unaccompanied immigrant children and families in Texas and Arizona.

Customs and Border Protection built a similar shelter in Yuma during an even bigger boom in 2019 under the Trump presidency. Catholic community services in southern Arizona and volunteers in Tucson made efforts to temporarily house migrants.

The two main Arizona accommodations currently providing services to recently released migrants are the International Rescue Committee Welcome Center in Phoenix and the Catholic Community Services Casa Alitas in Tucson.

One of the biggest problems local officials and nonprofits faced with this year’s surge in migrants was securing transportation to get the migrants to their shelters.

Migrants typically spend a few days in the shelters while staying with family members in other parts of the United States while waiting for their asylum cases.

The Tucson shelter has been taking in 20 to 80 single adults and members of family groups daily for the past three months, said Teresa Cavendish, director of Casa Alitas. She said no unaccompanied migrant children stay there.

Cavendish said newcomers will be tested for COVID-19 and those who are positive will be quarantined at either the animal shelter or hotel rooms that the City of Tucson has rented for the purpose.

The International Rescue Committee has stated that arrivals at his shelter will also be tested and quarantined if positive.

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