TUCSON, Ariz. — As more migrants cross the Arizona border, they have many stops along the way and one of them is Tucson.
Tucson city councilman Steve Kozachik says the issue needs resolution. He's starting to get calls to accommodate the overflow of migrants coming into Tucson. According to Kozachik he has seen about 6,000 migrants flow through the Benedictine Monastery over the last four years. He's recently seen about 10,000 come in from January to June of this year.
"We started this 5 years ago at the Greyhound bus station when border patrol was dropping off groups of 8 to 10 people at a time," said Kozachik.
The councilman says migrants are trying to make it to the United States before President Donald Trump's proposed border wall is built. Adding that he's handling the current situation like he would during Operation Deep Freeze to temporarily assist the homeless in the community.
"When it gets cold outside we bring in the homeless to city facilities and give them a place to sleep. We have a situation with homeless people here temporarily," said Kozachik.
Right now only 47 asylum seekers can stay at the ward office at once. Over 400 volunteers and translators are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
The office has three bathrooms along with men's and women's showers. Asylum seekers spend the night on the 47 available cots and move on from the location within 2 to 3 days. Kozachik says if the people crossing over are not housed they will be released into the street with no direction or assistance and that could ultimately create more of an issue for the city.
Another issue the councilman wanted to make clear is that all of the assistance is paid for by donations only. No public funds are used for the services, he also says that the migrants typically arrive after business hours to make sure there's are no disruption of city business. There are currently 5 local churches taking in migrants locally.
"We make sure their medical needs are taken care of, its all volunteer no tax payer money is used. All donations are given by the community and not by the government. What we need to have is democrats and republicans everyone working together with the Central American nations to solve the conditions these people are fleeing from," he said.
The councilman says that opening the ward office on a temporary basis is not violating city codes. He added that the Tucson Fire Department gave the site a waiver saying that it meets safety and health standards and can hold up to 224 people.