PHOENIX — This week Arizona began busing immigrants more than 2,000 miles to Washington D.C.
Governor Ducey took the action in advance of the Biden Administration's plan to end a pandemic-era policy known as Title 42. Title 42 allows the Border Patrol to turn away hundreds of thousands of migrants out of concern they may spread COVID.
A local non-profit near Yuma is the staging ground for the migrants. Two buses have left so far, including one Thursday. A total of 60 people so far from 12 countries. "With Arizona community resources under all-time demand, and little action or assistance from the federal government, individuals who entered Arizona seeking asylum have the opportunity to voluntarily be transported to Washington, D.C.," Governor Ducey said.
Unlike many immigrants who show up at the border, Customs and Border Patrol processed the migrant's asylum claims and released them. Meanwhile, in Mexico, thousands wait for a chance to enter the United States. "I think the time is needed for somebody to sit down with the people who are organizing this and find out when they'll have their act together," said Arizona Congressman Tom O'Halleran (D) Arizona 1st district.
Congressman O'Halleran toured the border in Cochise County last week. He is urging the Biden Administration to delay ending Title 42. "Both the Border Patrol and immigration at the ports of entry did not give me the confidence that they have been brought up to speed in a collaborative process," O'Halleran said.
With just a few weeks before the scheduled end of Title 42, Congressman O'Halleran saw little sign the administration is preparing for the expected rush of immigrants to ports of entry.
"I don't think it's going to work out," O'Halleran said. "I think there's going to be a tremendous amount of backlog. There's going to be people going through the process efficiently. But for the most part, it's going to be chaotic."
The congressman is not alone. At a hearing she chaired last week, Senator Kyrsten Sinema was not impressed with Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas' plan to process immigrants who will be coming by the thousands every day seeking asylum.
"DHS needs to put the necessary resources on the ground and implement processing system improvements in a manner that will keep Arizona communities safe, and treat migrants fairly and humanely,” Senator Sinema said.
The Biden Administration's public insistence to rescind Title 42 on May 23 will get its day in court Friday. Arizona and 20 other states will try and convince a Federal Judge in Louisiana it's too soon to lift Title 42. Judge Robert Summerhays indicated last month he is inclined to issue a temporary restraining order delaying the end of Title 42.
Arizona could learn as early as Friday if the judge still feels that way.