PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona has been ground zero when it comes to cracking down on immigrants crossing the border.

So why are more and more migrant families choosing to enter the United States through Arizona instead of other border states like California, New Mexico and Texas?

[WATCH: Arizona is popular place for undocumented immigrants seeking asylum]

One reason appears to be that asylum seekers have a better chance of staying in the U.S. than being deported while they wait for their court hearings, according to Teresa Cavendish, who runs the Casa Alitas Shelter in Tucson.

"The folks who come to us are very, very fortunate because they are not being forced to remain in a country which can be as dangerous as the country they fled from, in order to find safety and security in the United States," said Cavendish.

[RELATED: Border Patrol: 68K undocumented immigrants came to AZ in family groups in FY2019]

Immigration experts say that a Trump Administration policy that requires asylum seekers leave the country while they wait for their cases to be heard is not in effect in Arizona, which means migrants can stay in shelters, or with family members already in the country.

The policy is known as Migrant Protection Protocol.

[RELATED: Some applaud Trump's asylum announcement, while local group helps migrants]

Another factor is the fact that Arizona's two busiest border crossing in Nogales and Yuma, are far away from the closest immigration courts in Tucson and Phoenix.

Phoenix immigration attorney Maria Jones said that border patrol officers in Arizona also play a role in not having migrants deported right away.

[RELATED: Nearly 1 million migrants apprehended or deemed inadmissible along US-Mexico border in fiscal year 2019, CBP says]

"Believe it or not, not a lot of people know that officers have actually some more power than we think," said Jones. "Sometimes, they are allowed to act as immigration judges and determine who will go through the procedural system of immigration law, or send them back to their country. It seems like they are more following the law, but they also have a heart."

Jason Barry is best known for his Dirty Dining Report which airs Fridays at 6:30 p.m. on CBS 5.  He is also the storyteller behind CBS 5's Pay It Forward which airs every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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