Congressman Raul Grijalva is worried that immigration will become even more of a political football than it is alreadyand that could leave migrants released on the streets of Pima County.

Grijalva says he is afraid Republicans will take steps to make the immigration situation worse because releasing migrants to the street could help them politically.

Grijalva toured the Casa Alitas shelter Friday.

Catholic Community Services operates the shelter. Pima County pays for it entirely with Federal money. With a surge in migrants being allowed to enter and ask for asylum. Casa Alitas, which was used to taking in about six hundred people a day, often takes in a thousand.

County officials say most people stay a day or two then move on to Federally approved sponsor families while their asylum claims move through the courts.

Pima County Administrator Jan Lesher says critics are wrong when they claim the shelter system invites migrants to come.

If it were an invitation, we would stop inviting, but the reality is the way the system is working is that we know the numbers and again there’s over 1000 a day at some point. And if they come into the community without a place to stay, then they will simply be in the community and that does not help the folks in Pima County.

Lesher says with expenses as high as 2.7 million dollars a month, she is afraid Federal funding for shelters will run out by April and not be replaced. She says the county will not shoulder the cost to pay for a Federal responsibility.

Grijalva says many countries besides the U.S are feeling a worldwide surge in migration driven by poverty, crime, political unrest and climate change.

The Biden administration in response to what is perceived to be a huge political issue for the Republican Party to be able to use going into 2024, the border, is moving to harden the security issue. And we need to have that debate.

But Grijalva says the Republicans are pushing a bill that would prevent local governments like Pima County from providing shelter space.

Jan Lesher says that would lead to more and more people simply living in the streets.

Grijalva says he does support more Federal resources and hardening the border, especially at the ports of entry. He says the ports are where most illegal drugs enter the U.S and cites a study by the conservative Cato Institute that says just .02 percent of fentanyl seized was found on people illegally crossing the border.