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San Luis Mayor says undocumented immigrants put strain on local emergency services

City of San Luis, AZ/Lisa Sturgis, KAWC

The mayor of San Luis says the steady flow of undocumented immigrants is putting a strain on the city’s emergency services.

Nieves Riedel tells KAWC it’s forced the city to make some tough choices.

Mayor Riedel says resources are already stretched thin in Yuma’s South County.

“We only have three ambulances, and we depend on help from Somerton and the Cocopah Tribe, they have two," she said.

San Luis, Somerton, and the Cocopah Indian Tribe work together to meet local emergency response needs, but cooperation has its limits.

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema highlighted their dilemma Tuesday during a speech on the Senate floor.

“The fire chief recently told us that three of his five ambulances are used solely for transporting migrants in need, leaving only two ambulances for the entire local community on any given night," the Senator told her colleagues in Washington, D.C.

Mayor Riedel tells us, back here at home, it’s a harsh reality.

“It means for a couple of hours our residents are left in the cold.”

And she says, it’s led to some uncomfortable priorities.

“We’ve come to the conclusion that if they have a call from the Border Patrol to go and assist, and they get a call from one of our residents having a heart attack, they’re going to take care of our resident.”

Mayor Riedel did declare a state of emergency in San Luis last week in anticipation of the end of Title 42. The declaration opens the city to receive additional federal funding and resources, but so far there's no indication of what sort of support can be expected, and on what sort of timeline.

The courts are keeping the policy in place until after the winter holidays, but its status into the new year remains unclear.