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As migrants are sent across the border, local shelter says rooms sit empty

Migrants sent to Mexico, local shelters sit vacant
Posted at 11:10 PM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-07 01:10:41-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — "Several months ago we were seeing around 100, 150 people being released," said Diego Peña Lopez, of Casa Alitas.

"In the last several weeks we've been seeing 50 to 60 and right now it's going to about 20 something people per day."

Peña Lopez says there are fewer migrants being sheltered here because of the "Migrant Protection Protocol," a policy by the Trump administration deployed across parts of the border last January.

It took effect in the Tucson region last week.

"There's so much that we're still able to offer and give here and to be able to meet the needs of these families that are fleeing for their lives," Peña Lopez said.

"We have a great deal of stuff waiting for families to use," Frances Wheeler handles donations and resources at the migrant shelter.

"People from all over the country are sending us clothing and accessories and toiletries for them to use while they're here," Wheeler said.

She says clothes are piling up with fewer migrants being sheltered at Casa Alitas.

Wheeler says the piles of donated clothes sitting on their shelves won't go unused, they will likely be sent to migrant shelters in Nogales.

Peña Lopez says shelter isn't the only problems migrants are confronted with.

"Mothers who cannot produce breast milk because they're so dehydrated."

At shelters like Casa Alitas, Peña Lopez say migrants can receive medical care.

For it's part. the Department of Homeland Security says the "Migrant Protection Protocol" program will help restore a safe and orderly immigration process.

KGUN reported the county plans to ask for a million dollars to cover past costs of the shelter at Casa Alitas.

in a memo, county officials said the shelter is expected to process 12,000 asylum seekers this year.