-Unprecedented surge of migrants anticipated to enter Yuma as the end of Title 42 is debated
Yuma, Arizona. – Title 42 was set to expire today but has been delayed by an appeal to the Supreme Court. Last December, Mayor Nicholls issued an emergency proclamation due to the unprecedented number of migrants entering the area, resulting in a humanitarian and border crisis. December 9, marked the one-year anniversary of this emergency proclamation.
On December 15, 2022, San Luis Mayor Nieves Riedel also issued an emergency proclamation due to the humanitarian and health crisis resulting from mass migrant gatherings at the U.S.-Mexican border.
“I have maintained the City’s emergency proclamation in force for the last year because there have been no significant changes in policy or procedures from the Department of Homeland Security to reduce the flow of people crossing the border,” explained Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls.
These actions provide a continuous level of emergency proclamations from local governments all the way to the state, as Governor Ducey declared an emergency last year, on April 20, 2021. Issuing an emergency proclamation is a formal step in a process that facilitates the City’s coordination with other agencies, and grants the City access to additional resources, if necessary.
The Yuma Sector has seen an increase in migrants and expects to see even more once Title 42 ends. The Yuma Sector U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) has indicated that there is the potential they will be releasing migrants onto the streets of Yuma. This sector has the highest «in custody» numbers in the nation right now and there does not appear to be any additional resources coming to assist.
Additional Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) capacity is critical to provide the necessary resources Yuma Sector USBP needs to reduce the custody numbers. In addition, more transportation from Yuma to other regional non-government organizations would also be effective to prevent releases. The releases may become a daily occurrence, independent of the City’s position.
Current Border Situation
The Yuma region sees over 1,000 migrants crossing the border each day. A local non-profit, the Regional Center for Border Health, provides transportation out of the Yuma area for 350-500 migrants each day. The remaining individuals are bused to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) facilities in San Diego and Tucson or placed on flights to other DHS facilities.
Once Title 42 ends these sectors will become even busier processing migrants from their own sectors, and will no longer have the capacity to process individuals from other sectors. This in turn will create extreme pressures for the Yuma region, as they do not have the staffing and resources to handle processing an increase in migrants.
Advocating for the Yuma Community
Since taking office, Mayor Nicholls has talked with state and federal leaders about the border crisis and the detrimental impact it is having on rural, border communities. He has had ongoing conversations with the White House, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Governor Ducey, State Senators Kelly and Simena, as well as Governor-Elect Hobbs. He has shared with them the current crisis happening at the border as well as the eventual impacts the termination of Title 42 will have on the Yuma area. He also requested their continued support for the Yuma community and the necessary resources for Yuma Sector USBP.
“Migration is a federal issue not a local one,” stated Mayor Nicholls. “The federal government needs to step up and take the lead in addressing the impacts border communities are experiencing due to the release of migrants. Local governments should not have to take the lead and be asked to solve a federal problem, one in which we have, no direct control or management.”
Local governments do not provide food, housing or long-distance transportation services, all of which are needed as more migrants enter the area. The federal government has indicated that these expenses are not eligible for reimbursement.
What Happens Next
For now, Title 42 has been extended. However, once it ends, the federal government’s plan continues to be vague and only focuses on moving migrants through the system faster, allowing for release into the U.S. rather than placing the importance on reducing the flow of incoming traffic.
Nicholls has been advocating for a long-term solution and policy changes that reduce the flow of migrants crossing the border as well as provide for stronger national security. In addition, there needs to be Congressional action that updates our immigration laws to the current needs of our Nation.