Border Patrol says it needs 2nd migrant processing center in Yuma to ease overcrowding
YUMA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The Department of Homeland Security wants to purchase 40 acres of land to build a new migrant processing center in Yuma.
Currently, DHS is performing an environmental assessment for two possible sites at the Yuma Swap Meet and a piece of land owned by the Yuma Airport Authority. Both are adjacent to the Yuma Border Patrol Headquarters.
Yuma mayor Douglas Nicholls said it’s been in the talks for some time now. “We’ve been talking with border patrol leadership here locally about this project for about three or four years,” said Douglas.
Douglas said in the last few years, the border patrol had to make room for migrants by adding capacity inside their station and at their temporary soft-sided structure, including some of the white tents that can be seen outside their headquarters.
“It’s just physical space as people are going through the process that they have the right environment to be in,” he said. There are concerns about what a bigger facility could bring to Yuma, but Douglas said it should bring federal dollars to construct the facility and bring local jobs. He said DHS will need to staff the facility.
Recently, U.S. troops were deployed to the southern border to help border patrol with the influx of migrants. “For Yuma, what that means is a little bit more resiliency. It means that hopefully, we don’t get the situation we got into eight months ago where they were getting ready to release people out in the street,” Douglas said.
In December 2021, the mayor declared an emergency when an unprecedented number of migrants entered the area. More than a thousand were crossing into Yuma every day, but now about 1,500 hundred migrants are crossing at the border every week.
While numbers are down in Yuma, they’re up in other parts of the state. “Right now, the Yuma sector actually helps the Tucson sector because they’re seeing the high volume, eight months ago it was the other way around. Tucson was helping Yuma,” Douglas said.
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