Tucson officials weigh in on migrant street releases

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 7:02 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) -As U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) begins releasing migrants onto the streets in Cochise County, it has yet to happen in Pima County.

But, officials said it could be something that happens soon if more help is not provided.

“We actually thought that we might have some street releases today. It really is just these Herculean efforts by Pima County staff, the City of Tucson, nonprofits, Casa Alita’s that it hasn’t happened yet,” said Pima County Supervisor Chair Adelijta Grijalva.

City of Tucson Ward 6 council member Steve Kozachik said the county has avoided street releases because of the amount of available resources. He added that is is wrong to be releasing migrants into unfamiliar areas when the resources such as Casa Alita’s are there to help.

“They know where we are, they know that place exists. There is absolutely no excuse unless somebody’s just trying to make a political statement to start doing street releases,” said Kozachik.

But Grijalva said they are reaching a point where they are struggling to keep up with the number of people that are coming in.

“We don’t have any other options. The sad part is I’m making it sound like it’s a choice. It truly isn’t. There’s only so much room Casa Alita’s only has so much capacity,” said Grijalva.

Officials said they are doing everything they can to avoid street releases. These releases become a safety risk not only for the community but also for the migrants

“Put yourself in the shoes of the people who are being dropped off in the middle of nowhere. They don’t speak the language, they just got out of a traumatic trip across Mexico, possibly being burglarized, robbed, having all sorts of things happening to them,” said Kozachik.

Grijalva added that it is unfortunate to see this happening after years of hard work to avoid it. She said they have reached a point where they need more help.

“We really need the help from our federal and state governments that financial assistance in order to help us overcome the problem. Because, you know, up until this point, all of these services have been provided with federal funding,” said Grijalva.

She said they will continue to do everything in their power to ensure that they avoid street release so that they can keep the community safe while providing humanitarian assistance.

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