Migrant aid groups say they’re prepared for possible increase in need for services
NOGALES, MEXICO (3TV/CBS 5) – On this street corner near the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, Sonora, you can spot the migrants by their backpacks. They are green and brown camouflage. “I didn’t get far into the desert,” said Francisco Gonzalez, who is from Guatemala. Gonzalez was caught by the U.S. Border Patrol and immediately deported to Nogales, under the authority of section of a World War II-era law section known as Title 42.
Title 42 was invoked by President Donald Trump two years ago. President Joe Biden is set to end its use on May 23. On that date, migrants and refugees who are caught by the Border Patrol will again be eligible to apply for asylum. Migrant rights advocates believe asylum claims will also be processed at a higher rate at the official ports of entry. “Right now, we have a number of families who have been with us since July of last year,” said Joanna Williams, who is the executive director of the Kino Border Initiative, which operates a shelter, kitchen, health and legal services for migrants on the Mexico side of the border.
Williams says refugees and migrants have been stuck in limbo in this city for nearly two years. Most or all of the shelters in Nogales are full already, but Williams believes her organization and others will be able to meet a greater demand for services if the end of Title 42 results in an increase of people heading toward the border.
“We have some contingency plans. What if we have to serve 600 people food? What if that goes up to more than that? We have really generous volunteers. We have people who have donated supplies, so I’m confident that the community will be able to meet the need,” said Williams.
As calm as the streets of Nogales appeared on Tuesday, the situation can be dire and dangerous for migrants, who often have no money and no connection to the local community. Advocates say they are targeted by criminal gangs and forced to find overpriced accommodations, often without electricity or running water. Arizona’s Family Investigates found some evidence that migrants are sleeping in storm drains and sewer tunnels. “These are just moms or dads like you or me who are just trying to find the best way forward for their kids,” said Williams.
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