What a Phoenix shelter for asylum seekers has seen since the end of Title 42

The Welcome Center in Phoenix is run by the International Rescue Committee.
Over the weekend, volunteers at the Welcome Center in Phoenix helped more than 250 people a day.
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 7:57 AM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - It’s been one week since the expiration of Title 42, a Trump administration policy that allowed authorities to turn away migrants at the border to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

READ MORE: Title 42 expires; here’s the aftermath on Arizona’s border communities

For the first time since then, Arizona’s Family spoke to one of the largest shelters in the Valley that takes in asylum seekers. Stanford Prescott with the International Rescue Committee says over the weekend volunteers at the Welcome Center in Phoenix helped more than 250 people a day. This week that went down to about 100, which is lower than last week before the end of the policy. It has the capacity to hold 340, he said.

It typically takes a few days for trends at the border to play out in Phoenix as migrants work their way through the legal process. Prescott says most of those who seek help at the Welcome Center are traveling to other parts of the country to be with family. The IRC gives asylum seekers a place to stay, food, access to medical help and a legal orientation.

Arizona’s Family asked Prescott why he thinks there was not a surge as some expected post-Title 42. He thinks some migrants knew the change was coming and wanted to have their cases heard before it ended. Federal officials say about 60,000 migrants were already waiting near the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We shouldn’t just reflect on border arrivals as the only measure of what’s happening,” Prescott said. “Although border arrivals may have gone down, that doesn’t mean that people are no longer in need. They may still be in Mexico waiting for their opportunity to come to the U.S. They may still be in their home countries where there is violence and war and persecution.”

One thing the non-profit has noticed is some migrants are having problems using the CBP One app, which helps them book asylum appointments. “The app that is available to people has some very well-reported on flaws,” Prescott said. “And it’s worth noting that this app for us as Americans, it might make sense to use a smartphone app. But most people who may be fleeing for their lives from impoverished countries don’t necessarily have a smartphone. They don’t necessarily have Internet access and may not be able to read and write in the languages that the app offers, because it only offers a certain amount of languages.”

Arizona’s Family has reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for comment.

Prescott says they see people from all over the world, including Russia and Ukraine. “I was talking to a gentleman who, he was a teacher in his home country,” Prescott said. “There was a totalitarian regime and they want him to stop teaching science and to instead teach political ideology. He refused and he was targeted by the government. He chose to flee and come to the U.S.”

For now Prescott says the IRC is going to see how the next few weeks play out. It is focused on a “cross-border” response and is working not just in Phoenix, but is also scaling up in other states and Mexico.