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300-400 migrants dropped off at Phoenix Sky Harbor per day

Officials say they're seeing 300 to 400 migrants being dropped off at Phoenix Sky Harbor per day and they're not equipped for it.
Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 9:51 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Phoenix Sky Harbor officials say hundreds are being dropped off by bus at the airport every day. About 300 to 400 refugees and migrants have been arriving by bus each day for the past few months, officials said. We do not have an exact number.

Most are arriving unprepared to travel. Many don’t have a travel itinerary, and some do not have money or basic necessities like food or diapers. When they arrive, many need assistance purchasing a flight or calling someone to buy a flight for them. Sky Harbor’s customer service and operations teams have been providing phones, translating services, and coordinating with non-government organizations when refugees and migrants need additional assistance, officials said.

If someone arrives and can’t book a flight for that day, the airport contacts the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a Phoenix NGO. When they can do so, the IRC sends a bus to pick up refugees and migrants who need to stay overnight or require additional services or support but the organizations are often at capacity.

The airport is not set up to offer these services. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego sent us a statement

“Phoenix is committed to being a welcoming city. We believe there are many opportunities to improve upon the status quo, which is not working. We will continue to work with the federal government, and with ICE, to come up with a sustainable solution.”

Immigration attorney Darius Amiri says most people arriving in Phoenix are just here to find a way to get somewhere else. Most people are looking to fly, drive or find a ride to their family members already in the United States. “Typically, ICE won’t release them unless they can verify they have a family member or a sponsor that has U.S. residency and financial ability to support them because the government doesn’t want to put them in a position where they don’t have a place to go or be safe.”

Amiri says Phoenix is a hub. People crossing the southern border are bussed here to find another way to travel to other parts of the country. He says his clients have family members who are sponsors for a migrant. They can give them a place to live and support them financially to start.

“If people are getting concerned there is this permanent camp in Pheonix, I don’t think that’s the takeaway here,” he said. Amiri added the majority of the people are vetted by ICE, and they could face deportation if they are found to be in the United States illegally.