City looks for refugee solutions

Housing asylum seekers in Tucson

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - The Tucson City Council held a “let’s all get on the same page” meeting concerning the refugee humanitarian crisis at the US/Mexican border.

Several groups, organizations and volunteers have offered help, but they are not coordinated.

The city had to find space for the refugees last week when many more than expected were dropped off in Tucson.

The Benedictine Monastery, which has been housing hundreds of the migrants, was filled to capacity.

The city had to open the El Pueblo Neighborhood Center as a relief valve.

The Monastery will close its doors for redevelopment in July which has leaders scrambling for space.

The Tucson Convention Center and the Kino Exhibition Center are being considered.

Ward 6 City Councilman Steve Kozachik is also meeting with the Salvation Army to determine if it may have services and space.

“We have to devise a long game because this isn’t going away,” he said.

The reason the city was overwhelmed during Easter weekend is because there is no way to predict how many refugees will be dropped off by Border Patrol and ICE.

Tucson’s Police Chief Chris Magnus will meet with the agencies Friday.

“We are also going to need the help of officials at the national level,” Magnus said. “How can we make this a manageable process.”

At issue is oftentimes 50, 60 or more Central American refugees are dropped off at the Greyhound bus station at Broadway and Euclid with short notice.

Kozachik said that is an issue of public safety because the people don’t know the language, they have traveled thousands of miles and many need medical attention.

“That’s a problem for the neighborhoods,” he said.

The city also adds it is in need of volunteers with certain qualifications such as language and those who can help with transportation.

It will put out a call for volunteers soon.

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