Pima County prepares to receive a record 1,200 asylum seekers a day

Pima County prepares to receive a record 1,200 asylum seekers a day
Pima County prepares to receive a record 1,200 asylum seekers a day
Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 7:51 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It’s believed after several delays, that the border policy Title 42 will end Dec. 21. Title 42 is not an immigration policy, it’s a CDC pandemic health policy which prohibits asylum seekers from entering the US.

When it ends, it’s believed there will be a sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers entering the US and a large number will pass through Tucson.

“We were projecting 800 folks a day and we have now been advised to project something like 1,200 a day,” said Teresa Cavandish, the Director of Operations for Catholic Community Services which takes care of the asylum seekers. “We’ve had many, many conversations with DHS officials and other representatives from government, they said there no reason to believe Title 42 will not be lifted as scheduled.”

1,200 a day would be six times more than two years ago in Tucson, which is already overwhelmed with the number of asylum seekers crossing the border and being processed here. Even with the present 500 to 800 a day, many times there are not enough services locally, so some of them will be taken to Phoenix or other communities which may have some shelter.

There are thousands of asylum seekers who have been waiting in Mexico for the policy to end and may now have an open window to apply for asylum.

“The people who are stranded in Nogales, Mexico have been stranded, many of them for six or seven months,” said Joanna Williams, the Director of the Kino Border Initiative. “They’ve been stuck here.”

Which has created a backlog which is why when the doors open it will likely be a flood until the backlog is erased.

In a seven page memo released by the department of Homeland Security it says it anticipates an “increase in border encounters”. How many isn’t known but likely more than the 500 to 800 being released in Tucson. “When we look at anything above that, we simply do not have the capacity to provide services in this community,” Cavendish said. “We don’t know what the outcome will be.”

As part of its effort, DHS says it will attempt to mitigate any negative impacts on border communities,.. such as Tucson or Nogales, which recently met with DHS officials.

“We’re not prepared for them, we don’t have any shelters here in Nogales,” said Art Garino, the Mayor of Nogales “I don’t know what we would do if that were the case.”

That’s the sentiment in many border communities right now. In six days they may find out whether they can shelter them, or not.