Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls issued a proclamation of emergency, saying the continued mass release of migrants directly into his border community had become an “imminent threat” to life and property in the area.
The city lacks the resources it needs to handle the migrants, he said.
Yuma is the first border city in the U.S. to declare a state of emergency as part of its response to the latest surge in the number of migrant families reaching the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum.
“Today is a day that we had talked about three weeks ago, hoping never to get to,” Nicholls said at a news conference on Tuesday.
With a “heavy heart,” the mayor said he signed the document as a means to seek resources and to protect residents and vulnerable migrants.
“… the mass release of migrant families from federal detention facilities into the City of Yuma without provisions for adequate food, water, shelter and medical care threatens to cause injury, damage and suffering to persons and property located in the City of Yuma, Yuma County, Arizona as well as causing a humanitarian crisis,” the proclamation read.
The emergency proclamation was a plea for federal and state assistance.
Mayor: Migrants being released into the community faster than they are departing, and shelters and the staff to run them are at max capacity. A state of emergency is declared.
— City of Yuma (@cityofyuma) April 16, 2019
Nicholls said he received a call from shelter organizers on Tuesday morning saying they had reached their capacity.
That was followed by another call from Border Patrol officials in Yuma announcing they planned to release an additional 120 illegal migrants, placing the shelter way above its intended capacity.
Mayor Nicholls explained migrant families released to the shelter are waiting to be transported to cities throughout the nation; they are not staying in the Yuma community. Prior to arriving at the local shelter, each migrant is processed through USBP, has been issued paperwork to travel in the United States, and has been ordered to appear at a court proceeding.
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