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Yuma mayor meets with Trump for solutions to migrant influx

This Thursday June 15, 2017, photo provided by No More Deaths/No Más Muertes, an organization that provides care for migrants along the Mexican border, shows Border Patrol agents detaining an unidentified person in the Arizona desert. (No More Deaths/No Más Muertes via AP)

PHOENIX — The mayor of a southern Arizona city is pleading with President Donald Trump to provide necessary resources to respond to an influx of Central American migrants.

Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls met with Trump and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan on Tuesday to discuss solutions to the situation along the border.

“It’s about trying to make sure everyone moves through the system efficiently,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Wednesday.

“We don’t have the capacity to handle the volume that’s coming through Yuma so to make sure that everything is handled humanely for everyone, but also with public safety in mind, having other resources and other communities is essential if we’re going to continue having this kind of flow.”

The meeting came two weeks after the mayor declared a state of emergency when the town’s migrant shelters exceeded capacity.

Nicholls said the group talked about some long-term solutions to the border crisis, which included providing additional transportation to bring migrants to areas where there is more capacity.

Nicholls declared a state of emergency April 16 after border agents said they were bringing 70 people to a shelter that already reached its capacity of 200. At that point, there had been more than 1,300 migrants dropped off in the city.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe told KTAR News that 26,700 migrants have been released into Arizona between Dec. 21 and April 22.

“We’re about 1/40th the size of Maricopa County, so it is a dramatic difference,” Nicholls said.

“We have 2,000 (migrants) coming through the Yuma shelter system in the last month, and if you had 10,000 go through Phoenix, that’s only a 5 times difference, not a 40 times difference.”

Nicholls said if the city does not get these resources, migrants could end up on the streets. But he has also spoken with local and national nonprofits to help alleviate the situation.

“You also have to realize that all these asylum seekers are going to a host family somewhere,” he said.

“They’re not staying in Yuma, they’re not staying mostly in Phoenix, they’re moving to other parts of the country. Getting them on their way, essentially, is part of the shelter system process.”

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