Border Patrol Begins Releasing Migrant Families on the Streets of Yuma
Rafael Carranza, Arizona Republic March 28, 2019
CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan says border region is at “breaking point” because of influx of migrants from Central America. Mark R Lambie, El Paso Times
U.S. Border Patrol officials in Arizona said they have started releasing migrant families from their custody into the streets of Yuma because processing centers can’t cope with the large numbers of arriving families and minors.
Community groups in the Yuma area have set up temporary facilities to house the families and to provide food and shelter while they assist migrants with travel plans to leave the border city.
The Border Patrol issued a statement Thursday announcing its decision, which followed the lead of officials in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas, who last week began releasing families from their custody.
“U.S. Border Patrol processing centers are not designed to house the current numbers of families and small children that we are encountering,” the Border Patrol’s Yuma sector said in a written statement. “Due to capacity issues at our stations and the ongoing humanitarian crisis nationwide, Border Patrol has begun identifying detainees for potential release in Yuma with a notice to appear for their immigration hearings.”
In a news conference on Thursday afternoon, Carl Landrum, the Yuma sector’s deputy chief, explained Border Patrol made the decision as a dramatic surge in migrant families and minors overwhelmed their resources and holding spaces.
According to the latest government statistics, in the first five months of the fiscal year, agents in Yuma have apprehended 17,578 migrants traveling as a family. By contrast, in that same time period last year, they encountered 5,319 migrants. That’s a 330 percent increase and does not include rising numbers of unaccompanied minors and other single-adult migrants.
The sector is on track to apprehend a total of 60,000 migrants, Landrum said. Those are the highest levels since 2007, when the installation of additional border fencing began to reduce the number of migrants crossing through Yuma.
Landrum added the sector has the capacity to hold 400 migrants at its processing center and three patrol stations in the sector, but that the facilities were designed to hold single adults for short periods.
With a vast majority of apprehensions consisting of Central American families and minors claiming asylum, they cannot be deported right away, so they remain in custody longer.
That’s why they decided to begin releasing families, he said. Those eligible for release are migrant families who are released into the custody of relatives living in the United States and who have undergone medical screenings.
“It’ll continue right now, there is not an end date established,” he said about the releases in Yuma. “Until we can actually maintain the capacity … We’ve been overcapacity about 200 percent for the past two years.”Attribution: azcentral