Here’s what KTAR News saw during visit to US-Mexico border in Arizona ahead of Title 42 end

May 1, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: May 2, 2023, 1:42 pm

KTAR News’ Taylor Tasler visited the US-Mexico border near Yuma, Arizona, last week, just days ahead of the end of Title 42. The public health rule is scheduled to end May 11 when the U.S. lifts the last COVID-related restrictions.

YUMA, Ariz. — Along the Colorado River stands a 30-foot-tall steel wall with miles of farmland on the U.S. side and a thick line of trees and overgrown shrubs on the Mexico side. Scattered throughout the dirt on both sides of the wall are notes written in Spanish containing personal information, bent and abandoned debit cards, jewelry and trash.

A makeshift intake area on the U.S. side of the border wall is lined with drinking water, portable toilets, a tent providing limited shade and even some bananas.

Hundreds of migrants are crossing into Yuma daily. That number is expected to increase once Title 42 ends. Maria is one of the hundreds of migrants that crossed into the U.S. last week.

She detailed what the journey was like and through a translator app, told me she traveled from Colombia for four days before reaching the U.S.

“I left because of a man who was high in the government that I turned in,” Maria said.

“He retaliated, threatened me and wanted to force me to go out with him. He followed me and was watching me, so I sold my car and came here.”

Maria said the journey to the U.S. was difficult, and she was robbed along the way.

“I took some flights and buses. While I was on the road, there were some stops by the military. They stole my wallet, my passport and my clothes,” Maria said.

Maria is hoping to go to New York to be with her son. After our conversation, Maria waited for Customs and Border Protection agents to meet her at the border and take her into custody.

Many individuals like Maria may try to make the journey to the U.S. once the COVID-related border policy that limits asylum-seekers’ entry to the country ends. Border agents are expecting an increase of 20% but agents with the Tucson and Yuma sectors believe they’re prepared.

Dustin Caudle, deputy chief for the Yuma sector, said the agency had increased staffing and is using what it learned from previous migrant surges to handle the potential wave.

“We continue to increase our technical capabilities with the data enrollment that’s been able to be done out in the field,” Caudle said.

“We’ve increased our processing coordinator personnel, data entry specialists, security guards and we’re continuing to build capacity here in the local sector to be able to care for vulnerable populations.”

Caudle said once Title 42 ends, the primary change in operations for border agents is that agents will now process migrants under Title 8, the country’s immigration laws.

CBP also warns migrants of the dangers they’ll face if they choose to immigrate to the U.S. during the summer.

Caudle explained smugglers would often tell migrants the trip will be similar to a vacation, leaving them ill-prepared for the elements they’ll face.

Temperatures in the desert can quickly reach 120 degrees during the summer months.

He added it’s nearly impossible for migrants to bring enough water and supplies with them. So far, for fiscal year 2023, CBP has conducted 346 rescues and 15 body recoveries in the Yuma sector. In the past week, Tucson has conducted 500 rescues.

“The dilemma that migrants face is taking the risk to cross the river and possibly drown or cross the desert and risk dehydration, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke,” Caudle said.

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Here’s what KTAR News saw during visit to US-Mexico border in Arizona ahead of Title 42 end