Federal authorities have been releasing hundreds of undocumented immigrant families and asylum seekers in Arizona since early October, and the practice is spreading along the Southwest border.
Citing volume and the need to stay in line with a decades old court settlement, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement started releasing large groups of families to churches and activists in Yuma, Tucson and Phoenix in early October.
Now the releases have expanded to Texas and California.
Safe Harbors Network is a San Diego-based coalition that can offer about 100 shelter beds per night. But the group has been asked to prepare five times that many, said the founder of the coalition, Pastor Bill Jenkins.
“If we could turn over the beds every two nights, we probably could handle it,” Jenkins said. “But what’s going to happen is people are going to get stuck in the system, so to speak.”
Sometimes sponsors back out on families, which forces them to stay at the shelter longer, Jenkins said. Safe Harbors Network is working to find more room.