Arizona Mayor Declares Local Emergency Over Number of Migrants

Yuma, Arizona Mayor Doug Nicholls announced Tuesday that the number of migrants seeking asylum released into the city has become unsustainable. The mayor has requested federal assistance in handling the issue, which he claims has built to become a humanitarian crisis.

U.S. Border Patrol releases migrants seeking asylum into cities like Yuma. The city’s only migrant shelter opened three weeks ago and is currently housing 200 migrants, which is considered over capacity. Nonprofit groups dedicated to assisting migrants have been reportedly stretched thin as well.

Nicholls noted upon declaring the emergency, “The nonprofits have done a great job of continuing to move migrants to their final destinations, which is not Yuma. They're looking to move on to other destinations. However, the transportation network is just insufficient in order to keep up with the demand.”

Nicholls requested “FEMA-type” assistance, referring to the agency responsible for providing humanitarian assistance following natural disasters.

Mayor Nicholls noted that he does not believe the migrants pose a danger but is concerned for their humanitarian well-being.

Nicholls explained, “Every person that has been released to us has had a background check and has a health check. They are not just adult males, they would be in family units. We are not anticipating large-scale crime issues. We are not anticipating situations that would make Yuma a dangerous place.”

Mayor Nicholls asserted that he has been in contact with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on the issue. Governor Ducey’s office responded to the declaration noting, “We will review any declaration once we receive it…our office is working with local governments, non-profits and our federal partners to maximize available resources and ensure proper coordination between ICE officials and groups providing temporary services to migrants.”

Yuma is the first border city in the U.S. to declare a state of emergency in response to the most recent surge of migrants.

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