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Yuma declares immigration emergency; Tucson does not plan to follow

Tucson has more shelter space
Posted at 7:28 PM, Apr 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-05 15:45:20-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - A surge of immigrant families has so overwhelmed the City of Yuma that the mayor there declared a state of emergency.

Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls hopes for state or federal help but, Tucson's Mayor does not think Tucson has reached emergency status.

Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls says he does not believe the immigrants are a crime or health threat because most of them are families and they had health exams before ICE released them to shelters.

But he's worried they will have no place to stay as shelter space overflows.

He says, “When we reach above capacity and people are no longer able to stay at the shelter that means they're likely to be on the street and there will be a whole cascading effect of people walking around the city.”

The Mayor of Yuma says part of the reason he declared a state of emergency there is because Yuma does not have as deep a transportation resource as Tucson does so when the immigrant families are released from the shelters they have trouble moving to their next destination."

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild says he is not planning to declare a state of emergency for Tucson. The shelter at the former Benedictine Monastery has provided 350 to 450 beds but lately even that space filled up so the city looked for, and found alternative sites.

"So right now we're good thanks to the good heart of this community and the great non-profits we have. We're going to be spending some time over the next few days looking to build our capacity because we really don't know what the future is going to bring."

Mayor Rothschild says that new capacity could be something like a former school building or former motel.

Catholic Community Services operates most of the shelter space in Tucson, but is feeling the crunch in Yuma because the diocese reaches there and operates shelters in Yuma.