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Border here not expected to close due to end of Title 42, Yuma County supervisor says

 An unidentified Border Patrol agent speaks to migrants along the border fence where it meets Cocopah tribal land in Yuma County on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022.
An unidentified Border Patrol agent speaks to migrants along the border fence where it meets Cocopah tribal land in Yuma County on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022.

With Title 42 hours away from expiring, local government, law enforcement and education leaders in Yuma County say they are monitoring the situation for any potential impacts to local residents.

Yuma County Supervisor Tony Reyes, whose district covers South Yuma County including San Luis and Gadsden, told KAWC he spoke with San Luis Port Director John Schwamm who he said told him the border would not close when the pandemic-era policy to return asylum seekers to Mexico ends at 8:59 p.m. MT Thursday.

There are about 25,000 daily border crossers in San Luis, according to Mayor Nieves Riedel, who said increased migrant traffic could disrupt people from crossing for work and school.

Reyes said the majority of South County residents aren't worried about increased migrant traffic, as long as it doesn't disrupt their commutes.

"At this point in time, I don't think that the people that are walking around, living in San Luis or Gadsden are feeling the kind of pressure that we all feel knowing what the immigration and refugee issue has become," he said.

Martin Porchas, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking for federal assistance for Yuma County.

Supervisor Porchas called it a "humanitarian crisis" and wrote "As Title 42 comes to an end, Yuma County, its municipalities, and non-profits find ourselves in need of urgent assistance from the federal government to be able to provide transportation, care, food and shelter to a dramatically increased number of irregular migrants coming across the border into Yuma County.”

Porchas continued "I respectfully urge you to declare a federal emergency to give the federal government the ability to send the resources, personnel and infrastructure we urgently need to safeguard our residents and the migrants coming across our border."

San Luis Mayor Riedel also says a federal emergency declaration should be considered with Title 42 set to end.

Riedel released an official statement where she said the rising number of migrants may overwhelm the Regional Center for Border Health in Somerton, which offers migrants health screenings and travel help.

She said she fears that migrants released or entering San Luis will not have the transportation options needed to move on to larger cities including Yuma and Phoenix. RCBH has been running buses to take migrants from Somerton to Phoenix.

Riedel said a higher volume of calls for migrant aid will strain police and fire workers in San Luis.

“We cannot leave our residents without their services in emergency situations,” she said.

Somerton city leaders on Wednesday said they too support calling for a federal emergency declaration on Title 42.

In a released statement, city leaders echoed what Mayor Jerry Anaya told KAWC Tuesday. They said "As a city and united community we are proud of the work we have done to mitigate the impact of the migrant surge. However, it is not sustainable long-term to continue on our own without federal assistance. It is imperative for federal officials to proactively assist our front line border city, our border county overall and all border communities like ours across the country."

"We believe the option of a federal emergency declaration should be explored. A declaration will neutralize the red tape and give the federal government the ability to send the adequate resources, personnel and infrastructure."

Officials at Arizona Western College said they are monitoring to prepare for any possible impacts the end of Title 42 could have for AWC students and faculty.

Officials say leaders at the San Luis Learning Center and AWC police are in contact with law enforcement officials in Yuma County.

If migrant numbers increase that may affect students, faculty and staff who cross the border at the local ports of entry for work and classes.

If port officials were to close the border, AWC officials say they will notify the college community.


Stay tuned to KAWC for more on the end of Title 42 and its impacts here in Yuma County.

Victor is originally from West Sacramento, California and has lived in Arizona for more than five years. He began his print journalism career in 2004 following his graduation from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. Victor has been a reporter for the following daily newspapers: The Monterey County Herald, The Salinas Californian and the Reno Gazette-Journal, where he covered stories including agriculture, education and Latino community news. Victor has also served as a local editor for Patch, a national news organization with hyperlocal websites, in Carmichael, California in the Sacramento area. He also served as the editor for The New Vision, the newspaper for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson, which includes Yuma and La Paz counties. Victor lives in Somerton. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends and following most sports.
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