Immigration crisis faces another crisis.. housing

Tucson issues call for action

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - The number of migrants coming to Tucson seeking asylum is beginning to increase again.

After two weeks where the numbers dropped to more manageable levels, 30 to 50 a day, the numbers increased to more than a hundred for the past two days.

The increase in numbers has Tucson city leaders, as well as faith based charities, concerned.

Those migrants are being housed at the Benedictine Monastery on Country Club Road which will be remodeled starting at the end of July. That means a new home must be found for the Casa Alitas Program run by the Catholic Community Services, which serves the migrants.

Those asylum seekers generally spend a day, two maybe even three in Tucson before the leave for their final destination, which can be just about anywhere in the United States.

The Casa Alitas Program helps the migrants get their bearings, call family in order to get money for a bus or plane ticket and get their energy back about a 2,000 mile trip on foot.

Since more than a hundred migrants come to Tucson every day, a space large enough to accommodate their needs is a must.

The Monastery serves that need. At one time, more than 400 were staying at the Monastery, which strained the resources.

The asylum seekers have already been processed by the Border Patrol of ICE and are being dropped off before going on to their final destination. So far, even with city and county help, no facility has been found which can substitute for the cavernous Monastery.

“We are here today to make a call out to the Tucson community, which is a generous and caring community, for help,” Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said opening a press conference in the chapel of the Monastery on Friday.

Not only does the city need space to house the migrants, it also needs volunteers. Even though the program has 400 volunteers who are on duty 24/7, many are winter visitors who have left for the summer. Others work 12 hour shifts which can be taxing.

The city is looking for one or two large spaces rather than a dozen or more that can be supplied by the faith based community.

It’s for logistical purposes.

“We will not find a single location that will mimic what we’re doing here, it doesn’t exist,” said Ward 6 city council member Steve Kozachik, who has been instrumental in the humanitarian effort. “So we’re looking for lots of places and lots of volunteers.”

Those will go hand in hand if the city can’t find a large space and must rely on 10, 15 or more spaces provided by a number of faith based organizations.

Transportation becomes an issue, as well as where the community donors drop off food, clothing and other supplies.

“It can be a gym, it can be an auditorium,” said Rothschild. “But it would be ideal to have showers and kitchen close by.”

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