ARIZONA NEWS

Yuma mayor lifts emergency order as migrant drop-offs fall to zero

Dec 30, 2019, 12:20 PM | Updated: 2:35 pm
(Customs and Border Protection Photo)...
(Customs and Border Protection Photo)
(Customs and Border Protection Photo)

PHOENIX – The flow of migrants that overwhelmed the Arizona border city of Yuma during the spring has stopped to the point that the mayor has lifted the emergency declaration.

“It’s not to say that there isn’t an immigration crisis, but the release of migrant families into the Yuma area has ceased,” Mayor Doug Nicholls said Monday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

Nicholls declared a state of emergency in mid-April. By then, federal agents had deposited more than 1,300 migrants in the city.

The mass release pushed shelters past capacity. At the time, Nicholls called it a “consistent trend of increasing volume.”

Two weeks later, more than 1,000 migrants surrendered to the Yuma Sector Border Patrol over two days.

Now, after regular talks with the Department of Homeland Security, the mayor said, “It seems like the measures that are in place are going to be in place for the long haul until Congress reforms immigration policy.

The emergency declaration was withdrawn Dec. 19.

“Their effectiveness appears to be flexible enough to absorb surges that won’t end up meaning releases into the Yuma community.”

Nicholls attributed the drop in numbers to changes in policy and President Donald Trump’s and the State Department’s discussions with the Mexican government.

He was initially concerned the numbers would creep back up, so he held off withdrawing the emergency status when zero migrants were recorded coming into the city, he said.

But the “changed dynamics” of the process, including returning people to their home countries quickly rather than being dropped off unannounced in American cities, have made the difference.

“If families or individuals come through and they declare asylum, they’re given the asylum process, as is their right,” Nicholls said.

Acting Homeland Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said in a release, “The (overall) number of Central American family units apprehended has decreased by 85% since the height of the crisis in May.

“Now, communities like Yuma are directly seeing the effect of our efforts.”

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