NIMBY: Arizona mayor tells Biden to release migrants into cities able to cope with them, not his city

The mayor of Yuma, Arizona delivered a message to Joe Biden – Yuma is not prepared to handle the influx of illegal migrants being dumped on his town. Mayor Douglas Nicholls and other Arizona officials had a virtual meeting with the president. Biden was asked to rethink his policies on releases because they just aren’t working.

The Biden administration is continuing on with their disastrous policy of catch and release of illegal migrants. The southern border is quickly becoming overwhelmed and migrants are being moved away from the border into other towns and cities because of a shortage of shelters. Mayor Nicholls says that if migrants must be released, they need to be released into cities that can handle the load. Arizona is a border state that is struggling with the burden of illegal migrants, the same as other border states like Texas.

Mayor Nicholls says he struggles with getting the migrants out of town since they don’t want to remain in Yuma anyway. They want to go to other states. They want to go to other areas of the United States. If nothing else, Yuma needs DHS to step up and provide tents for migrants who are waiting to go elsewhere. Yuma doesn’t have permanent shelters. Nicholls noted this dilemma during an interview on FNC. He doesn’t want Yuma to turn into a tent city.

Really what needs to happen, if there’s any tent or soft-sided shelter, it needs to be on the DHS side. It’s my understanding there’s a program to get soft-sided shelter in the border patrol facility so that they can have the capacity for these surges. On the city side, what we struggle with is the ability to get people out of town. The migrants are not looking to stay in Yuma. They’re looking to go to other parts of the country. There’s just limited resources to get people where they need to go. That is really the bigger issue, making sure that there’s not a lag and people [are] getting where they’re going to go. So tents could be helpful in the interim to get people where they need to go. Long-term, we’re not looking for a tent city.

I’ve written about Yuma several times. It has a history of struggling with illegal immigration issues. Trump traveled there during his term in office to celebrate the completion of the border wall in the Yuma sector. The current crisis of the border has already presented problems for Arizona communities. Nicholls has been sounding the alarm since releases began to escalate in mid-February in his town. He has nowhere to put them and asks that the Biden administration bus them elsewhere.

“My ultimate ask is that they relook at their policies on releases,” the mayor told The Arizona Republic. “And should they really be releasing in communities that have very limited transportation options, that are actually very small compared to some of the other communities like Phoenix or Tucson or some of the California cities that have a robust nonprofit structure?”

Nicholls drew parallels between the ongoing releases of the past few weeks and the situation in 2019, when the Yuma Sector released more than 5,400 asylum-seekers, most of them within a three-month period from April to June.

They recorded nine days within that three-month period in 2019 where the Border Patrol released more than 100 migrants in a single day, Nicholls said. Since Feb. 15, there have been at least two such days, according to his count.

You can’t blame the man. He can’t conjure up permanent shelters overnight, and shouldn’t have to, for illegal migrants. It is the federal government’s job to handle illegal immigration. How many times have border states tried to handle the situation themselves only to be told that the feds have the final say on immigration matters? From April 2019 to September 2019, Mayor Nicholls brought together nonprofits in the region to open a temporary shelter run by the Salvation Army after declaring an emergency order. Illegal migrants were being dumped into the streets with nowhere to go, no resources to get them out of town. Then that shelter was closed when migrants were no longer dropped there. Now Yuma is back to square one.

Non-profits are again stepping up and doing what they can. That’s what happens in communities – non-profits pick up the slack. Those resources, though, are quickly depleted with the large number of illegal migrants seen in the surges flooding the southern border. Nicholls is also worried about the public health risk of COVID-positive migrants coming into the community. The border patrol doesn’t test them when they are detained at the border, that responsibility falls to the towns in which they are dumped.

Nonprofits throughout Arizona have once again stepped up, arranging private buses and shuttles to transport migrants released in Yuma to shelters in Tucson and in Phoenix, where they are tested for COVID-19 before they continue their journey to their final destination with relatives throughout the United States.

Nicholls said he wanted to see the federal government not just reexamine the policy, but also provide funding and resources to border communities and nonprofits bearing the brunt of the work to help migrants.

“Why burden the local communities along the border?” he said. “It’s a national issue. It’s not a Yuma issue. So it needs to be a national solution, not a Yuma solution.”

Good question. I wonder what Open Borders Joe told him. He’s deep in denial that there is even a crisis at the southern border. He calls it “a challenge”.