US to limit asylum, open migration hubs; so what’s being done in Arizona?

Arizona's border communities say they're already seeing an increase in migrants before the pandemic-era policy ends on May 11.
Published: May. 10, 2023 at 9:36 AM MST|Updated: May. 10, 2023 at 5:51 PM MST
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YUMA, AZ (AP/TV/CBS 5) -- President Joe Biden’s administration on Thursday will begin denying asylum to migrants who show up at the U.S.-Mexico border without first applying online or seeking protection in a country they passed through, according to a new rule released Wednesday.

Early Wednesday, Yuma County officials told Arizona’s Family that while there are a lot of preparations underway in the border region, a lot of uncertainty remains, as it’s unclear how many or how many more resources could be afforded by the federal government.

Arizona’s Family reported Tuesday night that the state has established five new bus routes to transport migrants from small border communities to Tucson ahead of the expected lifting of a controversial border restriction this week.

Yuma's 27th mayor, Douglas J. Nicholls, says they are already seeing a dramatic increase in influx of migrants.

Casa Alitas has received about 300 migrants daily from the small border communities since the routes were established Monday, according to the organization’s Executive Director. The figure comes on top of the number of people that the organization already receives from the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector. The state’s Border Security Fund can make $7 million “immediately available” to scale up transportation, shelter and public safety operations should it be needed.

The new federal rule is part of new measures meant to crack down on illegal border crossings while creating new legal pathways, including a plan to open 100 regional migration hubs across the Western Hemisphere, administration officials said.

More migrants are already trying to cross over and hundreds are waiting at the border line to seek asylum.

While stopping short of a total ban, the measure imposes severe limitations on asylum for those crossing illegally who didn’t first seek a legal pathway. The rule was first announced in February, but the finalized version takes effect Thursday. More than 50,000 people commented on it, but in the end it didn’t appear to substantively change. It’s almost certain to face legal challenges. In 2019, then-President Donald Trump pursued similar but stricter measures, but a federal appeals court prevented them from taking effect.

The administration painted the rule as a way to reduce the number of migrants showing up at the border while still allowing people with legitimate claims a chance at asylum. Officials also emphasized the complex dynamics at play when it comes to immigration that at one time consisted largely of adults from Mexico seeking to come to the U.S. They could easily be returned home. Now migrants come from nations across the Western Hemisphere and beyond.

“Economic and political instability around the world is fueling the highest levels of migration since World War II, including in the Western Hemisphere,” the rule said, with known crossings from Mexico reaching an all-time high last year due to an “unprecedented exodus of migrants at different times from countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela.”