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Groups want Gov. Ducey to stop politicizing asylum seekers, end busing to Washington D.C.

Posted at 5:58 PM, Jun 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-02 20:58:08-04

Local faith and immigrant rights leaders are calling on Governor Doug Ducey to quit playing politics with asylum seekers and let them help in the resettlement process.

There are hundreds of asylum seekers arriving in Yuma every day. So far in 2022, more than 177,000 have crossed into the Yuma sector. It's a 400% increase over last year.

"We are going to Yuma to pick up the families that are released so they're not released on the streets of Yuma," Amanda Aguirre, President & CEO of the Regional Center for Border Health said in a recent interview.

RCBH is one of several non-government organizations that works to reunite asylum seekers with their families in the United States. It arranges bus transportation from Yuma to Sky Harbor Airport so immigrants can fly to other U.S. cities to stay with relatives while their asylum claims are processed.

In May, at the Governor's direction, the state began offering free bus rides to Washington D.C. for immigrants looking to leave Arizona and had not yet been able to work out transportation to the east coast.

Once they arrive, immigration groups work with the state assist them in making it to their destination. "Trying to bus people out to win political points to make a point to the federal government is ultimately not helpful. But also immoral and against our faith tradition," said Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz from Jews 4 Justice, one of the groups accusing the Governor of using asylum seekers as political pawns.

The Governor's office insists no one is being forced to ride the bus. It is all voluntary.

Many of the riders are on their way to places like New York, New Jersey, Florida and Virginia. "This is unnecessary. This is something that shouldn't be happening because again, I know many of those migrants have their families willing to send them a ticket so they don't have to make that trip," said Karina Ruiz of the Arizona Dreamers Coalition.

The faith and immigrant rights leaders say they are willing to assist in helping asylum seekers get to where they need to go. A spokesman for Governor Ducey said, "We're willing to work with anyone who has a sincere desire to help."