Asylum seeker surge causes street release in AZ counties

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There is a growing situation in three counties in Arizona concerning a surge in asylum seekers due to a recent rise in border crossings.

We welcomed Shane Clark, Director of the Pima County Office of Emergency Management, to explain the situation further.

“It’s fluid. It’s dynamic. And it changes daily,” Clark said. “Our border patrol Tuscon sector are seeing numbers in the sector that are higher than they’ve ever seen before.”

Typically, asylum seekers are placed in a short-term shelter for 24 to 36 hours. They are connected to family or sponsors and then sent to their destinations.

However, with the recent surge in migrants, shelters haven’t been able to keep up with the number of border crossings.

“As those who cross the border are apprehended and then walk through the ability to gain what we call ‘legal process to asylum,’ then they are released into our communities. I like to make it clear that these are legally processed asylum seekers that met the qualifications to enter our country legally. At that point in time, border patrol, customs and border protection release into the local communities.”

The region’s migrant-aid network has been stretched to capacity, prompting city and county officials to release migrants into the street.

These “street releases” have been happening recently in Nogales, Douglas, Bisbee, and Casa Grande. Tucson is also expected to start “street releases” soon.

“What we have done in Pima County and elsewhere is create a sheltering system so that they can seek respite and some quality of life while they are making their way to their final destinations,” Clark said. “Most of these legally processed asylum seekers do not stay in the Arizona area. They seek to live elsewhere in the United States.”

Shane Clark, Director of the Pima County Office of Emergency Management

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