The district administrator warns of a crisis as asylum seekers come to Tucson

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) – Asylum seekers continue to come to Tucson amid the pandemic.

On Wednesday morning, the Pima district supervisory authority approved transport to the Casa Alitas Welcome Center in a 4-to-1 vote.

However, the board of directors still has concerns about the influx of asylum seekers.

Chuck Huckelberry, Pima County’s administrator, says this could lead to a crisis similar to the 2019 one.

To prevent this from happening, he asked for clear communication at the front of the border guards.

He says 72 people arrived at Casa Alitas on Tuesday and added that most of the asylum seekers were in family units.

“16 were transported by Ajo. 40 came on a Yuma bus and 26 got off the ICE. The most pressing problem we have is the transportation of people from Ajo, ”he said during a meeting of the Emergency Committee.

While the Board of Supervisors has been communicating with Border Patrol, Huckelberry says another roadblock is receiving clear information from the department.

“The notice is relatively short and sometimes significantly inaccurate as to the number of people released. Last Sunday we were told that 60 would be released, but 33 were released, ”added the county administrator.

He says without an adequate number of staff they cannot arrange proper transportation or provide accommodation for asylum seekers. COVID-19 also makes housing difficult.

“At the time of the increase in 2019, we still had the Kino Event Center and the Old Pueblo Community Center as shelters. These facilities are either used as a test for vaccination centers. The traditional capacity at Casa Alitas, which is around 300, is now reduced to around 70, ”he said.

Border Patrol does not routinely test asylum seekers for COVID-19 unless they are clearly symptomatic, according to Huckelberry.

“That’s why we’ve provided quick testing to our nonprofits to ensure that every person enrolled is tested,” he added.

On Tuesday, three asylum seekers tested positive for COVID-19 at the Casa Alitas Welcome Center.

“The mother and daughter are now in a hotel home to isolate COVID. The grandmother is in intensive care now, ”said the county administrator.

Huckelberry says this can quickly become a perfect storm for health, housing, and transportation crises and is asking for open communication with the Border Patrol to avoid all three.

KGUN9 reached out to Border Patrol but they did not respond with a comment on the matter.


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