Overcrowding At Arizona Border, Causes Surge In ‘Street Releases’

(Photo by RINGO CHIU/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN’s Stephanie Stahl
12:08 AM – Friday, September 15, 2023

Arizona border facilities are facing capacity issues, prompting Border Patrol agents to release migrants into the streets.


Pictures captured by John Fabbricatore, a retired ICE Field Office Director, show undocumented migrants at an outdoor holding facility within the Tucson sector of Ajo, Arizona. 

The region has seen a daily influx of around 2,000 unauthorized border crossings three days in a row. 

To address the recent surge in migrant numbers in four Arizona cities, U.S. border agents are rapidly releasing migrants who have been processed as asylum seekers. According to officials in Cochise and Santa Cruz counties, none of the released migrants have been left unsheltered overnight.  

Through collaboration with Pima County’s emergency management and the state Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, migrants have been transferred to short-term shelter providers such as Casa Alitas in Tucson and the International Rescue Committee in Phoenix. 

However, due to the accelerated pace of migrant releases, the agencies are uncertain how long they can continue to support them. 

“We are on the precipice of (migrants) being unsheltered overnight in Bisbee,” Daniel Duchon, director of Cochise County Emergency Management, said. “It hasn’t happened yet. I’m on the phone 24/7 with state and Pima County emergency management, going ‘Help me out,’ and they do it every time. But at a certain point, if the numbers keep going up, they’ll have to say, ‘Dan, I can’t.’”

Border Patrol typically collaborates with local governments and migrant assistance groups to ensure a smooth handover of migrants leaving their custody. However, the expedited processing and release of migrants is generating a lot of uncertainty due to safety standards.

This change comes in response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, which led to the enforcement of specific confinement conditions for Border Patrol detention centers located in the Tucson Sector. 

Over the past week, Border Patrol officers have reportedly apprehended 4,000 individuals daily along the border within the Tucson Sector. This information was shared by Mark Evans, the spokesperson for Pima County, which administers federal funding for migrant support services.

“We fully understand the situation that the Border Patrol is in,” Evans said. “We understand their need to release people. But at the same time we don’t want to create dangerous conditions for the people being released without shelter or without support services into the community. It’s taking them from one danger to the next.”

In Washington, Republican lawmakers are advocating for an overhaul of border security measures to address the migrant surge, attributing the crisis to the Biden administration’s policies.

In response, the administration claims Congress must approve its funding requests and address the “dysfunctional” system in which the agency operates.

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