YUMA, AZ — Governor Doug Ducey tweeted Monday that Yuma is facing an escalating humanitarian and border crisis. It's because thousands of immigrants are rushing to cross the Colorado River into Arizona in an effort to beat the reinstatement of Remain in Mexico. It's a former President Trump era program which keeps immigrants in Mexico while their appeals for asylum are processed.
Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines says since last Thursday at least 5,000 immigrants have crossed the border and waited for border patrol to pick them up. "We did a couple of interviews this morning," Lines said. "The reason they said there's a surge is because they're worried because of that policy being reimplemented not letting them crossover into the United States."
Some of the immigrants are in poor health. A man we met from Brazil collapsed on our news vehicle from dehydration. He and dozens of others had been camped out along the levee separating Arizona from Mexico for several days.
While we were there, four border patrol vans pulled up and rescued the group who were clearly hungry and in need of water. Another man we met from Nicaragua said he needs kidney dialysis and a woman from Haiti looked as if she was about to give birth at any moment.
The immigrants are coming from many countries. Honduras, Nicaragua, India, Brazil, the Republic of Georgia, Cuba, and Haiti just to name a few. "This is not the group you need to be concerned about," Lines said, "When you have a large group coming across it's actually a detraction from some of the more criminal element coming across."
Despite the assistance of the Yuma County Sheriff's Office and Yuma Police Department, the volume of immigrants crossing over the Colorado River is challenging the resources of the Border Patrol.
On Monday, Governor Ducey said he has instructed The National Guard, his Director of Homeland Security, and the State Police to come up with a plan to assist Yuma as it deals with its latest round of border crossers.
A spokesperson with U.S. Customs and Border Protection provided the following statement Monday night:
Unscrupulous smugglers continue to exploit vulnerable migrants. CBP’s message is clear: Our borders are not open. People should not make the dangerous journey. Yuma Sector and our partners across CBP are working expeditiously to screen and process those encountered. Local non-governmental organizations are providing basic needs for the migrants still waiting to be taken into custody along the border.
DHS continues to expel migrants under CDC’s Title 42 authority. Those who cannot be expelled under Title 42 and do not have a legal basis to remain are placed in expedited or full removal proceedings. CBP will continue to treat all migrants with dignity and respect as we process them.