Casa Alitas preparing for the end of Title 42

Published: May. 9, 2023 at 6:40 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Pima County officials and non-profits are preparing for the end of Title 42 immigration restrictions and the new wave of migrants expected to seek asylum in the county.

Now they’re working on a plan to ensure those crossing the border have somewhere to go.

Many local shelters for migrants around southern Arizona said they’re already full, with Title 42 set to end on Thursday, May 11.

According to Teresa Cavendish, the Executive Director of Casa Alitas, the shelter is at full capacity and fears the number of migrants seeking help will only increase in the coming days and weeks.

Cavendish said they are seeing numbers greater than those seen in 2019. Right now, Cavendish said Casa Alitas is helping around 600 migrants a day.

“Before even midday, we have had an announcement that exceeds the numbers we have had in a single day back in 2019,″ Cavendish said.

Diego Piña Lopez, the Associate Director of Casa Alitas, said those seeking refuge are coming from many different parts of the world, not just Latin America.

“Back in 2019, we saw so many families come through the shelter. Now our predominant group is single males coming through,” Piña Lopez said. “Really changing the services and resources we are able to provide with just that demographic shift. Now we are seeing people from India speaking 4-5 different languages there and countries from Africa as well coming through.”

Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger of the Tucson Dioceses said this is something Catholic Community Services also sees.

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that people have been waiting months or years to seek legal asylum process then suddenly we have this very very large number,” Bishop Weisenburger said. “What I am hearing from people is our ability to respond to that many at once, for a period of time will be a strain.”

These shelters’ main priority is ensuring migrants aren’t dropped off on the street.

To assist the shelters, Governor Katie Hobbs announced five additional transportation routes and additional funds to help the boots on the ground.

“My message to border communities is this we stand with you we are here to support you,” Gov. Hobbs said. “The state stands prepared to scale up its transportation, shelter, and public safety activities to meet the needs on the ground.”

Both Cavendish and Bishop Weisnburger tell 13 News it’s important the community is understanding and accepting of those seeking help.

“The welcoming our guest receives here is so important but they are moving into the interior of the U.S.,” Cavendish said. “They are going to face additional barriers and it’s so help they are received with grace at these locations and received with welcome and intent to help.”

Despite the struggles Casa Alitas is already facing, Cavendish said they are ready to help anyone who needs it.

She said community members are always welcome to help in any way possible, whether that be food and clothes donations or volunteering.

The official end of Title 42 is Thursday, May 11.

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