Crisis Escalates; Border Patrol Releases Migrant Families into Streets

‘Due to capacity issues at our stations and the ongoing humanitarian crisis nationwide…’

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(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) U.S. Border Patrol officials in Arizona have started to release hundreds of migrant families into the streets of Yuma because immigration centers can’t keep up with the number of migrants flooding the border.

Community members have set up temporary housing facilities to try to help the migrant families, but the Yuma area is overwhelmed, according to the Arizona Republic.

“Yuma Sector has experienced a significant rise in the number of family units arrested throughout the sector. This demographic is challenging in that they cannot be immediately returned to their country of origin. U.S. Border Patrol processing centers are not designed to house the current numbers of families and small children that we are encountering,” the Border Patrol’s Yuma sector said in a written statement. “Due to capacity issues at our stations and the ongoing humanitarian crisis nationwide, Border Patrol has begun identifying detainees for potential release in Yuma with a notice to appear for their immigration hearings.”

Border Patrol agents made a similar decision in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas last week, citing a limited amount of resources and personnel as migrants continue to flood the valley unabated.

Rio Grande City agents encountered a group of 110 illegal aliens from Central America on Monday, and then a few hours later, they found another group of 98 illegal aliens trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

On Tuesday, the Rio Grande Valley Sector detained more than 1,700 illegal aliens total, making it the highest day of arrests since 2014, officials said in a statement.

In Yuma, agents apprehended 17,578 migrants traveling as families in the first five months of this fiscal year. That number has skyrocketed since last year, when agents only encountered 5,319 migrants. That’s a 330 percent increase.

Carl Landrum, the Yuma sector’s deputy chief, said in a press conference that the sector is on track to detain about 60,000 migrants this year.

Surging immigration has left Yuma in a crisis: the sector only has the capacity to hold 400 migrants at a time, and since many of the migrants coming into the U.S. are families, they remain in custody longer.

Landrum said this problem has forced Border Patrol to release families, albeit only the ones who have undergone medical screenings and who have relatives living in the U.S.

“It’ll continue right now, there is not an end date established,” he said. “Until we can actually maintain the capacity … We’ve been overcapacity about 200 percent for the past two years.”

Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls said Border Patrol could release up to 200 migrants into the streets each day.

“The full capacity of [nonprofit groups] in Yuma cannot address the full volume of migrants, should the volume increase as projected,” Nicholls said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement made a similar decision in October when they began releasing families in Yuma. Local and state officials protested against the solution, pressuring Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to help ICE find a better solution.

Nicholls has similarly reached out to Gov. Doug Ducey and U.S. Sen. Martha McSally for help. He said the government could issue “a FEMA-type response to handle the release of individuals and to provide judges to help facilitate legal proceedings that would reduce the flow of migrants.”

McSally sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Wednesday, expressing her concern about the release of hundreds of migrant families with little to no warning or aid.

“People in Phoenix, Yuma and throughout Arizona are facing massive financial, public-safety, and humanitarian costs from an immigration crisis that they had no part in creating,” she said in the letter. “We need to do better to reduce the burden imposed on them.”