Arizona City Declares State of Emergency After Flood of Migrants Overwhelms City’s Resources

REUTERS/Adrees Latif

An immigration policy house of cards is beginning to fall apart as over-capacity detention facilities force the release of migrants into U.S. cities that are underprepared for their arrival, including the border city of Yuma, Arizona.

On Tuesday, Yuma declared a state of emergency to deal with the flood of illegal immigrants that continue to arrive in their city.

As IJR previously reported, detention centers for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have been hitting capacity as Border Patrol apprehends thousands of illegal immigrants per day. With nowhere to detain the migrants, Border Patrol agents have been forced to release the migrant families into American cities.

Yuma is one of the cities forced to pick up the pieces of the overwhelmed U.S. immigration system, but now they are facing the same problem as ICE and Border Patrol: They’re running out of space.

While announcing his emergency declaration, Mayor Douglas Nicholls explained that shelters in his city are at capacity and Border Patrol has been releasing illegal immigrants into the city faster than they’re leaving, making the situation worse.

“Migrants continue to be released at a rate that cannot be sustained, overwhelming the current non-profit shelter system,” Nicholls said.

The mayor explained that he hopes the declaration will alert the nation that border cities are struggling under a broken system, creating an “imminent threat” to the migrants and the citizens living in towns like Yuma.

“By signing this declaration, we’re looking to do a couple things. Making sure that, not just locally, but throughout the country, it is clear that we are in a position that needs to be rectified on a national level, not just within the resources of our Yuma community. And two is to try and avert the threat of hundreds of people roaming the streets, looking to satisfy basic human needs in our community and not having the resources to do so.”

Nicholls told reporters that the “solution rests at the federal level.” Given the gridlock in Congress, that’s not a very optimistic path forward.

In the meantime, Yuma hopes to get transportation so they can move the migrant families onto other cities to help alleviate the demands on just their city. Nicholls also hoped to see a “FEMA-type” response. Though FEMA typically arrives during a natural disaster, Nicholls claimed their resources, especially when it comes to housing, could help the city stay afloat.

Either way, the help Nicholls is requesting has to be approved by someone above, especially his request for help from FEMA, which must be approved at the federal level.

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