A very large shelter for immigrant asylum seekers has been a team effort by Pima County and Catholic Community Services. Thousands of people were kept off the streets through the effort, but now a new contractor is taking over the shelter.

On some days as many as 12 hundred asylum seekers move through a large building on Tucsons southwest side. They move out to other locations around the country. Catholic Community Services operated the shelter through the Casa Alitas program but now Casa Alitas is stepping back and a different contractor will take over operations there.

Pima County says 99 percent of asylum seekers moved from Casa Alitas to sponsor homes in other cities.

Supervisors Board Chair Adelita Grijalva says Casa Alitas staff and volunteers were able to protect health and safety for everyone; because their efforts kept asylum seekers from being released to the streets without resources or language skills.

Respectfully the County doesn’t necessarily want to be doing this, but absent any real leadership on the Federal level and the fact that we’re surrounded by other counties that are smaller and don’t have the capacity, we stepped up and continue to step up and I’m proud to serve on a board that has made consistently made the right decision.

Grijalva says Federal money, not local tax dollars, covers the cost of the shelters.

Everyone in the shelters has legal approval to be in the US. Federal Homeland Security allowed them in while judges consider their asylum claims.

Casa Alitas will still operate shelters, including an existing shelter for women and children in a portion of Pima Countys Juvenile Detention Center.

Elena Dwyre, CEO of Catholic Community Services says it will be able to enhance services for women and children there.

The CCS statement says in part, By concentrating our efforts here, we aim to more effectively allocate resources and expand vital programs across southern Arizona, particularly in housing and support services for the homeless.”