TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - There’s a mass migration of families taking place and Arizona is at the forefront.
Thousands of immigrants, mainly from Central America, are illegally crossing the southern border every day. It’s one of the many challenges facing Roy Villareal, the new chief agent of the Border Patrol Tucson Sector, “It’s pushed us to a breaking point,” he said on Thursday, while addressing this shift in immigration.
Large groups of migrant families are illegally crossing the border and turning themselves in to agents. According to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen almost 100,000 migrants will cross into the states this month alone, “Which creates clutter, chaos, and noise for the narcotics to be hidden and filtered through and then there’s the terrorist threat,” Villareal said.
Most are seeking asylum as they flee from violence and poverty in their home countries. With so many coming every day, Villareal says it’s overwhelming the current system, “We’re not prepared for it. Our facilities were not designed to house families. We weren’t prepared for the influx of people and the need for medical care.”
The cost of that medical care is skyrocketing, “A lot of these families are arriving and they lack the same medical care we acquire,” Villareal said, “In the last four years we spent over 100 million dollars providing medical care for the migrants that have breached our borders.”
The chief says smugglers are taking advantage of this by dropping off large groups of migrants in one area to create a diversion so they can get drugs or other contraband across, “On a daily basis, I’m sending anywhere from 30-50 agents with the migrants for medical care and what that does is distract my ability to put agents on the border to protect the borders.”
Chief Villareal is calling on Congress to address the current immigration influx with a full border package of infrastructure, manpower, and technology. Until then, his agents will continue securing the border while helping an increasing number of immigrants some say are taking advantage of what they consider an outdated immigration system.