Yuma, an Arizona city on the U.S.-Mexico border, is the nation’s first to declare a state of emergency over illegal immigration, saying new policies and resources are needed because the surge of families seeking asylum has become unmanageable, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Mayor Douglas Nicholls, a Republican, said U.S. Border Patrol agents released nearly 1,300 migrants in Yuma, with a population of about 100,000, in the past three weeks. The only shelter in Yuma, a former Salvation Army thrift store with space for up to 200 people, is filled, leaving the city with no ability to absorb migrant families entering the U.S. in growing numbers.
The declaration doesn’t change any policies in Yuma. Nicholls it is his way of urgently calling on the federal government to provide assistance and change immigration policies to alleviate the pressure on his city.
“I had to do something to change the discussion and to change the posture, to get more resources or get the situation resolved in one manner or another,” he said. Without help from the federal government, Nicholls worries that there could be a “catastrophic situation” with migrants left to wander the desert city with no help as temperatures start to rise.
The high temperature for Friday is predicted to be 100 degrees. U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement are releasing hundreds of parents and children daily in towns along the border because the agencies don’t have enough capacity to house them safely after processing asylum applications.