PHOENIX (AP) - Government officials and non-governmental organizations that help immigrants must do a better job coordinating and communicating about the needs of immigrants in the country illegally who are increasingly being released onto the streets after their detentions, Sen. Martha McSally said Monday.
McSally made the comments before she held a closed-door meeting with leaders of the groups, U.S. officials and Arizona officials including the mayor of Yuma, who announced last week that he was coordinating with the non-governmental groups to address large numbers of migrants who are being released there.
Immigrants who are arrested by Border Patrol and who are not from Mexico are typically sent to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a different agency. But both agencies have become so strained by the increase in immigrant families entering the U.S. that the Border Patrol in some areas now releases them on their own recognizance after medical and criminal screenings.
The federal government has said the influx of families has reached a breaking point. Customs and Border Protection is reassigning hundreds of border inspectors from their usual duties at border crossings to assist Border Patrol agents with processing families.
Border Patrol agents were projected to make 100,000 arrests and denials of entry at the southern border in March alone.
McSally, a Republican, said the meeting was not about placing blame on anyone but about figuring out how to work together.
The meeting included officials with several of the nonprofits that help migrants with shelter, food and travel. But reporters were not allowed to attend the meeting and could only watch McSally's introduction ahead of it.
"But we just gotta come together and figure out how we can do a better job of coordinating and communicating given the circumstances I just gave," McSally said.