Casa Alitas close to hitting maximum capacity due to influx of migrants in Tucson

KOLD News 10-10:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 10:23 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Casa Alitas is bursting at the seams. The organization is receiving a huge increase of asylum migrants from Border Patrol every day and it’s more than they’ve ever seen.

Hundreds more migrants are coming to Tucson each day from other cities along the Southern border.

They’re being taken to organizations like Casa Alitas and being housed in local hotels, but there may not be enough room or resources for all that come through.

Tucson is experiencing unusually high numbers of migrants because of decompression efforts in other cities like Yuma and El Paso. Organizations like Casa Alitas only had a 24 hour notice to prepare for the influx and there’s a real possibility this could lead to community releases.

″For the past several weeks, we’ve been seeing about 420 to 450 people a day being released to Casa Alitas from Border Patrol and ICE,” said Teresa Cavendish, Executive Director of Casa Alitas.

That’s about 150 more than they see on a regular basis. The increase is putting a strain on their resources and their ability to receive more people from those agencies. Cavendish says she’s never seen numbers like this before.

″The increase is coming from both an increase in the number of people coming to Tucson from the Yuma sector at the border, as well as people who are being decompressed out of El Paso and are being sent to the Tucson sector,” she explained.

Due to the increase, Casa Alitas along with their three hotels are dangerously close to hitting maximum capacity.

″When we hit capacity, where we truly cannot bring another person safely into our care, then Border Patrol is faced with a situation of considering community releases or what was formally referred to as street releases,” she said.

Casa Alitas reached that capacity on Friday and Border Patrol prepared for a community release. Instead, the city and the county stepped in and created a temporary shelter at a local hotel.

Casa Alitas has open spots right now, but that could change at any moment.

″It’s not anticipated to stop, in fact it’s anticipated to increase because more people tend to travel to make the journey to the border when it cools down,” Cavendish said.

We have reached out to the City and they are working to get us more information about the increase in migrants coming to Tucson and where they will be housed if Casa Alitas and the hotels currently in use become full.

Casa Alitas is always in need of volunteers and donations. If you’re interested, you can find more information here.