The surge in families seeking asylum put Pima County and the city of Tucson to the test recently. Shelters run by nonprofits ran out of space over the Easter weekend. With short notice, the city and county opened temporary shelters to house migrants just released from federal custody. In that time, the county alone helped more than 200 people get to their next destination. Now it's looking at ways to pay for ongoing efforts to provide aid.
Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry discussed one option with Lorraine Rivera, which involves using funds from the federal grant program Operation Stonegarden. The grant typically goes to state and local law enforcement agencies for work done with cooperation with Border Patrol. Huckelberry described a recent directive from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that said Stonegarden funding could be used in Southwest border states for humanitarian relief.
"And that humanitarian aid is what we use to provide medical assistance, food, shelter, water and transportation for immigrants who are seeking asylum. And I think that's kind of come to the forefront just this last Easter weekend," Huckelberry said.
Costs associated with the temporary shelter totaled less than $10,000, according to Huckelberry. "But I think if you were to extrapolate that throughout the year it adds up to real money after months of doing this," Huckelberry said. "I think a good start at humanitarian aid is in ... several hundred thousand dollars."