Arizona border city declares state of emergency in face of migrant surge


YUMA, Ariz. – The southern border city of Yuma has declared a state of emergency because of the continued surge of migrants who continue to arrive in the western Arizona region, saying it lacks the resources to handle the influx of people.

“Mayor: Migrants being released into the community faster than they are departing, and shelters and the staff to run them are at max capacity. A state of emergency is declared,” the city said Tuesday evening.

In the first six months of fiscal 2019, Border Patrol agents have apprehended nearly 25,000 people who are members of families.

In the same period a year earlier, agents in this region made around 6,500 apprehensions, roughly one-quarter of the amount this year.

Yuma gives its name to one of nine sectors, or regions, on the southwest border. The Yuma sector has seen the third-most apprehensions of families this year, after the Rio Grande Valley Sector in east Texas and the El Paso Sector in West Texas. The Rio Grande Valley has seen 78,000 apprehensions of family members, three times more than Yuma.

Families from Central America who illegally enter may legally claim a credible fear of returning home. Once a person makes that claim to a Border Patrol agent and has been processed, he or she is turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which detains people who are illegally in the country.

Until 2015, families who illegally entered and claimed asylum were held by the agency for the duration of their legal proceedings. But a court ruling that year mandated any person who arrived with a child only be held a maximum of 20 days. Because asylum cases now take two to five years to be heard by a federal immigration judge, migrants are not able to have their case decided before being released.

The White House has claimed the ruling entices families to illegally enter and claim asylum, knowing they will be released.