Rural Arizona border county seeks state, federal help to handle arrival of asylum-seekers

Sep 15, 2023, 7:09 AM

A stop sign stands near the U.S.-Mexico border fence near Douglas, Arizona, in Cochise County....

A stop sign stands near the U.S.-Mexico border fence near Douglas, Arizona, in Cochise County. (File Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

(File Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

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

Along with other local officials at a news conference Thursday, Sheriff Mark Dannels of Cochise County said that the rural area doesn’t have shelters or other infrastructure to attend to the needs of migrants, many of them from faraway countries in western Africa and southeast Asia.

“We don’t have any resources at all to house these people,” said Douglas Mayor Donald Huish.

The officials said Customs and Border Protection has been overwhelmed with arrivals and began releasing the 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 about 16,000 people on Arizona’s border with Mexico. Dannels said the migrants entered the U.S. at other locations along the U.S.-Mexico border, but didn’t specify where or why remote Cochise County was chosen as the location to release them.

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

When contacted, CBP did not address specific questions about why Cochise County was chosen for releases, but said it is “working according to plan and as part of our standard processes” to get people quickly out of detention facilities before they become overcrowded.

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

Typically, asylum-seekers who are allowed to remain in the U.S. are sheltered for a few days by nonprofit organizations that then help them make contact with and travel to stay with relatives in other parts of the country pending their immigration court dates.

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

Yuma County, located on Arizona’s border with Mexico in the far west, has encountered similar problems in 2021 when Border Patrol officials released migrants there when facilities became overwhelmed.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

woman holds money and types into computer...

Arizona street gang indicted after alleged involvement in pandemic assistance fraud scheme

Members of the Arizona Mexican Mafia received a 50-count indictment after fraudulently filling for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance funds.

5 hours ago

Image of a thermometer measuring high heat. The heat dome that's been baking Texas is inching towar...

Chandler to begin heat relief services on May 1

With summer seemingly coming fast, the City of Chandler plans to open a day respite center and eight cooling locations starting on May 1.

7 hours ago


Mexican regional music festival coming to Wild Horse Pass in Chandler

Wild Horse Pass in Chandler will host Mexican regional music festival "Belicofest" over the last weekend of April.

9 hours ago

(Facebook Photo/ Prescott Frontier Days)...

Prescott’s ‘World’s Oldest Rodeo’ to celebrate traditions this summer

Tradition will be the theme of the 137th annual "World’s Oldest Rodeo" in Prescott this summer.

12 hours ago

(Facebook/Gilbert Police Department)...

Police investigating death of man pulled from canal in Gilbert

The Gilbert Police Department is investigating the death of man it pulled from a canal on Saturday morning.

14 hours ago

Community listening session on teen violence in Chandler set...

Serena O'Sullivan

Chandler city leaders to host community listening session on youth violence

Chandler city officials will host a community listening session on teen violence and behavioral health in early May.

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Rural Arizona border county seeks state, federal help to handle arrival of asylum-seekers