January 5, 2024

Even with drop in asylum seekers, Pima County anxious for more federal funding

Pima County continues to warn of pending street releases if Congress doesn’t allot more money for migrant services, even as officials opened the Lukeville port of entry yesterday due to a drop in unauthorized border crossings outside of ports.

360 casa alitas globe A globe is visible in the foreground as a child runs past at Casa Alitas in Tucson. The nonprofit offers shelter, medical aid and helps arrange travel for migrants admitted into the United States.
Nate Huffman/AZPM News

County administrator Jan Lesher says even with the dip, the county continued to serve up to 9500 migrants a week.

Lesher says without more money, migrant street releases are imminent. She spoke with AZPM from a press conference late last week at the Lukeville port.

“We have been very clear that we are providing a federal function and if we’re going to do that, we need federal dollars for that to continue,” she said. “With the change in how they’re funding and how much they’re funding, we believe that the dollars allocated to us for what could be the next year will run out at the end of February.”

Blas Nuñez-Nieto with the Department of Homeland Security says DHS has asked Congress for billions of dollars in emergency supplemental funding, which would provide both border security funding and grants to support NGOs providing migrant services in border communities.

“Funding by itself is probably not enough,” he said. “We really do need the Congress to step up and do its job and update our broken immigration system that hasn’t been touched since the ’90s”

Even as negotiations over border funding are stalled in Congress, Nuñez-Nieto says they’re hopeful that bipartisan discussions in the Senate and stepped up actions by Mexico will help better manage the flows of migrants.

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