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Arizona sheriff asks for state and federal help to manage arrival of asylum seekers in rural areas

DOUGLAS, Ariz. (AP) — The sheriff of Arizona’s easternmost border county asked state and federal officials Thursday for help in…

DOUGLAS, Ariz. (AP) — The sheriff of Arizona’s easternmost border county asked Thursday for help from state and federal authorities in the sudden daily release of more than a hundred migrants seeking asylum in the United States, including families with young children.

Along with other local officials, during a news conference Thursday, Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels said the rural area does not have shelters or other infrastructure to meet the needs of migrants, including many come from faraway lands in West Africa and Southeast Asia. .

“We have no resources to house these people,” Douglas Mayor Donald Huish said.

Officials said Customs and Border Protection had been overwhelmed with arrivals and began releasing migrants into small communities such as Douglas and Bisbee on Wednesday and continued Thursday. Some were dropped off at a bus stop outside a Bisbee supermarket.

Douglas is a city of approximately 16,000 people located on Arizona’s border with Mexico. Dannels said the migrants entered the United States through other locations along the U.S.-Mexico border, but did not specify where or why remote Cochise County was chosen as the release location.

Officials said many migrants are transported out of the area to a Tucson shelter on buses paid for by Pima County through a federal grant.

When contacted, CBP did not respond to specific questions about why Cochise County was chosen for the releases, but said it is “working in accordance with the plan and within our standard process” to quickly get people out of detention centers before they become overcrowded.

He said it aims to “screen and process migrants safely and efficiently in order to place them in immigration enforcement proceedings consistent with our laws.”

Typically, asylum seekers allowed to stay in the United States are housed for a few days by nonprofit organizations who then help them make contact and travel to stay with relatives in other parts of the country while they wait. their appearance in immigration court.

But these organizations don’t exist in remote areas like Cochise County.

Yuma County, located on the far western edge of Arizona’s border with Mexico, faced similar problems in 2021 when Border Patrol agents released migrants there when facilities were overwhelmed.

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