Planners say border crossings may quadruple next month when Title 42 lifted

KOLD News 6-6:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 8:15 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The number of asylum seekers passing through Tucson could increase four fold when the Biden Administration lifts Title 42 on May 23.

Title 42 is used during a public health emergency to turn back asylum seekers wanting to cross the border into the United States.

More than a million have been turned away during the pandemic but thousands have massed along the US/Mexican border waiting for the lifting of the order imposed during the Trump Administration.

Pima County is preparing for a large influx when the order is lifted.

“Time is of the essence right now and we have only between now and May 23rd,” said Shane Clark, the Director of Pima County’s Office of Emergency Management. “It would be great to have more time.”

Clark is working alongside the Biden Administration, Border Patrol, Customs and ICE on plans and logistics on how to handle a large influx.

“We can only do so much with the number of people that we have available and the number of resources that are available,” Clark said. “And on the federal level, those resources are going to be stretched among four states.”

Clark has divided the task into four parts which need resources and logistics.

The releases into the community, sheltering those who are released, testing and vaccinating asylees for Covid and transportation to get them away from the border and to resources they need to get them to their final destination.

It’s a tough haul and Clark who says he’s an optimist, still has concerns.

“As an emergency planner right now, I’m not confident that it’s going to go smoothly,” he said. “That’s why we need the due time to plan for all the contingencies.”

Clark’s concern is also felt by Unites States Senator Mark Kelly who has introduced a bill to plan for and pay for the border operations.

“Nobody is saying Title 42 should be in place forever, this is for a public health emergency,” Kelly said. “We don’t want chaos on the border, we have a crisis, we don’t want a crisis on top of a crisis, but the way you avoid that is to have a plan.”

Kelly says he has warned the Biden Administration that there is no well thought out plan for how to manage the large numbers of people who will cross the border seeking asylum when the order is lifted.

Clark says all sides are working diligently to come up with those plans.

“The days are long and the time is short,” Clark said.

And even if they come up with a plan, he’s concerned about the logistics.

“I’m just concerned in the short period of time with the numbers we’re going to start seeing, the potential releases in our community, that the plans may be there but the logistics have not arrived yet,” he said.

Also late Thursday afternoon, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced Arizona has joined 21 other states in a lawsuit trying to force the Biden Administration to reconsider the deadline.

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