Arizona town declares ‘state of emergency’ over border crisis
An Arizona mayor on Tuesday declared a state of emergency over the number of migrants being dropped off in his town by federal authorities.
“Border Patrol let us know that they were going to be dropping migrants that had been detained for 72 hours in our town, which we really didn’t understand because we have nothing here,” Gila Bend Mayor Chris Riggs told Fox Business. “We have no charity organizations that can help, no non-governmental organizations that a lot of the larger cities and towns do have to assist these people.”
Riggs’s declaration reportedly came one day after 16 migrants were dropped off at a park in Gila Bend — a town of only 2,000 people that does not have a hospital or a shelter — by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Riggs said he had been told by CBP that these drop-offs would be a regular occurrence on an indefinite basis.
“To drop people in basically the middle of nowhere, it’s 30 miles to the next type of town, and that’s 30 miles of open desert. So especially come July and August, we’re going to be finding bodies,” Riggs told azfamily.com.
The mayor said he and his wife used loaned vans to drive the recent migrants to the Phoenix Welcome Center themselves in order to ensure they had a place to stay.
“I can’t tolerate the thought of little kids having to walk through the hot desert,” he said, calling on the Maricopa County government, Arizona state government and Biden administration for help.
The Hill has reached out to CBP and the Department of Homeland Security for comment.
The Biden administration is facing criticism for its handling of the border crisis, with tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors being held in U.S. custody, many for longer than is legally permitted. Reporters have not been permitted inside border facilities to document the conditions.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has acknowledged that border facilities are “no place for a child” and has blamed the current crisis on the Trump administration, which he says “tore down” the previous system in place for handling migrants at the border.
On Monday it was reported that border agents in the Rio Grande Valley had released migrants into the U.S. without giving them a court date for their immigration hearings. Though some migrants reported giving their contact information to border officials, others said their contact information was not taken and were instead given documents to show authorities if they are stopped in the U.S.
The administration is turning away thousands of migrants at the southern border and has opened up several new facilities to handle the surge, including a tent city in Midland, Texas, and a convention center in Dallas.
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