Tucson Faces ‘Catastrophe’ As Funding For Illegal Immigrants Set To Expire

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Authored by Matthew Lysiak via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

A commercial truck tanker rolled over on Interstate 10 in Tucson, Ariz., on Feb. 14, 2023. (Arizona Department of Public Safety)

Arizona’s city of Tucson may be only days away from a crisis as millions of dollars in federal funds, which had been used to finance programs to house and assist illegal immigrants, are set to expire on April 1, potentially leading to their release en masse in the streets of Arizona’s border communities.

Tucson City Manager Michael Ortega said that the loss of federal funding, which amounts to more than $1 million dollars a week, would be “catastrophic” for the city.

“Keeping a hundred folks off the street is different than a thousand folks everyday,” Mr. Ortega told 13 News. “So I am sounding the alarm.”

More than 1,000 illegal immigrants are processed by Border Patrol before being brought into the city daily. And without the influx of federal dollars, it could, in short time, overwhelm the city, according to Mr. Dahl.

We’ve never seen the number of people coming in now that we are currently seeing,” Mr. Dahl said. “In the past, we were seeing ten people a day being dropped off and it didn’t really have too much of an impact. But now, we are talking about hundreds every day and there is simply no place in our budgets for this to continue.”

Mr. Dahl said that regardless of the outcome, the city will continue working with non-profit groups set up to assist illegal immigrants. Further, he proposed that Border Patrol could take illegal immigrants to Sky Harbor airport in nearby Phoenix, Arizona, which “is better equipped to deal with the situation.”

However, residents are concerned that the drop in funding could result in thousands of illegal immigrants being released onto the Tucson streets. And with crime and homelessness already high, this would likely cripple the city.

Data released from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) shows that in December, agents were involved in a record 87,330 encounters with illegal immigrants in Arizona’s Yuma and Tucson sectors, which are right on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The new all-time high eclipses the previous high, recorded just one month earlier in November 2023, when CBP agents reported 70,796 encounters. The new data also is the continuation of a troubling trend, marking the seventh consecutive month the state has set a monthly record.

A border patrol source previously told The Epoch Times that agents believe at least some of the increase can be attributed to an upgrade in security over recent months at popular illegal crossings along the Texas border, resulting in some smugglers opting to reroute to southeastern Arizona, where they expect to be met with less resistance.

These smugglers are very savvy when it comes to American media and they are aware of the message Texas has been sending that they don’t want them coming through their state,” said the agent, who has worked in the field for over a decade, primarily in the southeast region of Arizona.

“It appears, at least in some instances, they are detouring a few hours and crossing where they know they won’t have to encounter any resistance.

“Right now, that place is Arizona, especially the Tucson sector,” he added.

Arizona Sheriff Mark Lamb told The Epoch Times that the crisis confronting Tucson is of the government’s own creation and that even if a path is found to extend federal funding, that it will only serve as a temporary fix that fails to address the core problem.

“All this funding was only hiding the fact that this government’s policies are completely disastrous and serves to keep people from realizing that this is a deeply serious issue,” Mr. Lamb said. “We have homeless vets on the streets of Tucson in desperate need of help, and instead of helping our own, we are supporting thousands of new people every day who broke our laws.”

Mr. Lamb says in his role as sheriff, where he is tasked with enforcing existing law, his hands are tied. However, securing the border has become one of the main platforms, and reasons, for his current run for the U.S. Senate.

We need to un-elect these people in office,” Mr. Lamb said. “We didn’t have these issues when Trump was president. People are coming here because the government keeps providing incentives in terms of free housing and other things.

“American families work hard only to see their taxes go to people who broke the law and entered the country illegally. That’s not compassionate; that is reckless.”

 

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