Border communities share concerns on the impact of Title 42 ending

Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 6:23 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema chaired a sub-committee hearing on Capitol Hill addressing what she’s calling a potential crisis for border towns.

Title 42 is set to end on May 11. Title 42 was introduced and implemented in March 2020 to restrict migrants from crossing the US-Mexico border in efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.

With Title 42 expected to end in two weeks, officials are concerned that crime will rise, and resources will be depleted.

Mayor Clea McCaa of Sierra Vista, Pima County Chief Medical Officer Francisco Garcia and others were at the sub-committee hearing in Washington, D.C. to share their concerns.

“It is the massive and unrelenting flow and volume of asylum seekers that is the most taxing and biggest challenge for us,” said Garcia.

Garcia, along with county staff and volunteers, have been providing food, shelter, transportation, and medical care to migrants for several years. With Title 42 ending, Garcia is worried there will not be enough resources to be able to serve not only migrants crossing the border, but also residents of Pima County.

“This past December, a record breaking 15,000 migrants were released,” Garcia said. “Federal agencies have signaled that we may be expecting twice that number after May 11. If that happens, we will be overwhelmed, and there will be many hundreds of people left to fend for themselves on the streets of Pima County.”

Safety was another concern shared in the hearing, with Sen. Sinema and Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford noting the increase in illegal drugs flowing across the border. Mayor McCaa also raised the issue of load-car drivers and the dangers they pose in Sierra Vista.

Load-car drivers are individuals hired to transport migrants and have been reported to pose dangers on the road, with pursuits doubling from 19 in 2020 to 38 two years later.

Mayor McCaa says those dangers are putting Sierra Vista in a negative light among visitors and businesses, and he is now more cautious in a place he calls home.

“Recently I have found myself worrying about my family members’ safety in a way I never had before,” said McCaa.

Witnesses shared the same concern that the federal government is not taking enough responsibility. Recommendations were made to the committee such as having more judges in the area for more immigration court cases to take place, and also having the national guard assist in transporting migrants.

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