Border Communities Declare States of Emergency
By Colton R. Overcash | April 26, 2019
As the border crisis continues to escalate, border cities and counties are being increasingly burdened by the massive influx of illegal aliens pouring into them. Consequently, two local governments along the border have been forced to declare states of emergency and are asking state and federal authorities to provide assistance. More can probably be expected to follow.
On April 16, Mayor Douglas Nicholls (R) of Yuma, Arizona issued a proclamation of emergency, saying that mass migration had become an “imminent threat” to life and property in the area and the city was “above its capacity” to accommodate any more aliens.
He issued the proclamation after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released more than 1,300 migrants into the city over the past month. The only shelter in Yuma, which has space for up to 200 people, is already at maximum capacity and cannot take in any more groups, leaving the city with no ability to absorb the additional aliens.
Mayor Nicholls told reporters he’s looking for a “FEMA-type response” to help his city deal with the influx. “FEMA shows up at disasters all the time. This isn’t a natural disaster, but it is a disaster either way. “It’s a catastrophic situation,” he said.
Between October 1 and March 31, CBP apprehended approximately 31,393 migrants in the Yuma sector, which is a 174 percent increase over the number of aliens apprehended during the same period the previous fiscal year. The number of unaccompanied minors taken in by authorities, totaling 3,679, was 51 percent higher.
CBP’s border facilities are so overwhelmed by the influx that they have no choice but to release thousands into communities like Yuma.
"Due to capacity issues at our stations and the ongoing humanitarian crisis nationwide, Border Patrol has begun identifying detainees for potential release in Yuma with a notice to appear for their immigration hearings,” said Carl Landrum, CBP’s Deputy Chief of the Yuma Sector.
“It’ll continue right now, there is not an end date established," he said about the releases in Yuma. "Until we can actually maintain the capacity ... We've been over capacity about 200 percent for the past two years,” Landrum added.
In a rare show of support, the Arizona House Democratic Caucus delivered a letter to Governor Doug Ducey (R), urging him to do more to “address this emergency.” So far, Gov. Ducey has said he will not consider declaring a state of emergency at the border, but pledged to “do everything … within our power and resources” to help border cities overcome the crisis.
Yuma isn’t the only border community reeling from the border crisis, though. In New Mexico, the Otero County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution declaring a state of emergency just two days after Mayor Nicholls.
The resolution urges New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) to deploy the National Guard to the southern border to help re-open federal checkpoints that are critical to stemming the flow of drugs and other illegal activity into New Mexico.
“If this demand is not met by the State of New Mexico in one week’s time, the County of Otero will take action itself to provide security and safety and well-being for the people of this county.” Otero County Commission Chairman Couy Griffin (R) said.
Gov. Grisham, who withdrew the National Guard from the border in February, said she doesn’t believe an emergency exists and Otero County is “free to reach out to the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for whatever assistance they feel they need.”
The El Paso Sector, which includes Otero County, is reported to have the “highest volume of apprehensions in the southwest.” Since October, CBP has apprehended around 71,063 aliens along this sector, which is a 547% increase over the number apprehended during the same period the previous fiscal year. It is also considered a major smuggling route for Mexican drugs and Islamic terrorists, according to Judicial Watch.
The crisis is a top concern for Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan.
“Our immigration system is at a breaking point at the border,” McAleenan said during a recent press conference. “CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our southwest border — and nowhere has that crisis manifested more acutely than here in El Paso.”