Arizona town helpless amid migrant surge declares state of emergency

Mar 24, 2021, 4:55 AM | Updated: 8:51 am
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)...
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – The town of Gila Bend, just 60 miles southwest of Phoenix, has declared a state of emergency over the influx of asylum-seeking migrants being dropped off in the community.

Mayor Chris Riggs explained they simply do not have the resources or funds to deal with migrants the border patrol drops off in their town at their discretion.

“I’ve got nothing here, I’ve got no shelter, nowhere to put them,” Riggs said. “Literally, they’d be sleeping at the park and I’m not going to do that to little children.”

Riggs explained the emergency declaration will allow the town to continue serving its residents while helping migrants. He described the declaration as a push for help during a city council meeting Tuesday evening.

“I want to get Maricopa County to provide me, from the department of health services, with personnel and testing resources so that I can test these people,” Riggs said, adding he wants the state, through the National Guard, to help the town with transportation if a non-government organization is not available to help.

Riggs expressed frustration knowing his hands are tied since he cannot say no to the drops but cannot ignore migrants either.

“My political beliefs, all aside, I cannot leave children out in the middle of the elements,” he said. “I don’t know who could.”

As of Tuesday, the most recent drop of migrants in Gila Bend were six families, five from Venezuela and one from Chile, a total of 16 people including children.

Border patrol provided just a two-hour and thirty-minute warning before the drop.

Riggs said he and his wife had to transport the migrants themselves after U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona arranged for them to be housed in a Phoenix shelter, but were unable to find transportation for them.

Just three hours away in the border city of Nogales, Mayor Arturo Garino says there has been no increase in asylum seekers but shares the concern of other border mayors that if it does happen, the city does not have funds to deal with the situation.

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Arizona town helpless amid migrant surge declares state of emergency