While migrant surge hasn’t materialized, shelter workers believe it could still happen

Published: May. 12, 2023 at 8:00 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The predicted or anticipated migrant surge along the U.S.-Mexico border after the lifting of Title 42 has not materialized, at least not yet.

Title 42 was a Trump-era health emergency declaration that prevented migrants from crossing the border during the pandemic.

The Biden administration ended the health emergency, which ended Title 42 and also instituted a series of measures to deter crossings.

While the number has increased this week in anticipation of the end of the emergency, it was not nearly as large as predicted.

The Casa Alitas Drexel Welcoming Center has seen a near doubling of men seeking asylum as it had in the past, but it was far less than the triple or more many thought would cross.

“Knock on wood, it kinda stays this way,” said Casa Alitas Associate Director Diego Lopez.

On the day after Title 42 expired, about 1,000 migrants from diverse countries such as Chad, India, Nepal, as well as Central American countries, were relaxing, calling on their cell phones, or making preparations to move on to their new homes in the United States.

Around 1,300 came and went the day before.

Even though Casa Alitas can handle the numbers, there is yet a bit of anxiety.

“I will still say it’s not over yet,” Lopez said. “We have the pins and needles to stand on, to know where we stand across the border.”

The Tucson community provides the hundreds of volunteers needed to ensure things run smoothly, people get fed, some rest, and ultimately moved on to their final destinations.

Drexel is a men’s shelter while families are sheltered in hotels. Those who test positive for COVID are isolated in another hotel.

While the expected surge has not materialized, things could change.

“We’re going to be cautiously optimistic and pay attention to and take a step back every so often to fix this little thing today to help people tomorrow,” Lopez said.

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