The Tucson Border Patrol Sector has seen a significant increase in migrants over the past few months. An increase in migrants mixed with scorching temperatures, can make for extremely dangerous conditions.
“A lot of makeshift and temporary facilities are popping up along the border,” Juanita Molina of Border Action Network said. “Because we’re not really calculating for the number of people and also the needs of the people.”
The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and groups like Border Action Network are setting up tents for shade and water stations near Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. All while, the Ajo station works to process a huge spike in migrants.
“The Ajo substation for U.S. Border Patrol was never designed to process as many individuals as what we’re seeing and so it was kind of a recipe for really bad things to happen,” Volunteer with Border Action Network Brad Jones said.
The remote station has limited capacity when it comes to holding migrants indoors.
CBP officials tell KGUN 9 no migrants have died of heat related illness in their care since the beginning of this heat wave.
They do say migrants are still waiting a long time before they get processed.
In a statement a CBP spokesperson says:
CBP efforts to address the large numbers of migrants crossing into the dangerous, desolate area near Ajo, Arizona have significantly reduced time in custody to an average of 15 hours. The Border Patrol has surged personnel and transportation resources to respond to the increase in encounters in the area — some of the hottest, most isolated, and dangerous area of the southwest border — where individuals have been callously sent by smuggling organizations to walk for miles, often with little or no water. Border Patrol has prioritized the quick transportation of migrants encountered in this desert environment, which is particularly dangerous during current weather conditions, to Border Patrol facilities where individuals can receive medical care, food and water. Border Patrol has utilized outdoor shaded areas only when necessary and for very short times while they await onward transportation to larger facilities. The Ajo Border Patrol Station is not equipped to hold large number of migrants due to historic trends in this area. CBP and the Border Patrol agents responding to this influx, assess and screen individuals upon initial contact in these isolated areas; prioritizing transportation and medical attention of the most vulnerable and those who require immediate medical attention. Due to the efforts by CBP, the Border Patrol, and its partners, there have been no deaths of persons rescued<b> </b>by the Border Patrol on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge or the Organ Pipe Cantus National Monument since the beginning of the heat wave and the increase migrant crossings in Ajo Stations area. Additionally, there have been no major medical emergencies due to the heat once migrants are taken into custody in the field, at the station, or at the outdoor facility.
With long wait times, humanitarian groups like the Border Action Network have already dispatched volunteers to help.
“We immediately dispatched our volunteers to set up some water stations and emergency water stations right on the border,” Jones said. “So, in Organ Pipe Cactus National national monuments.”
Those larger facilities include a migrant shelter here in Tucson, where migrants receive food and shelter before they are sent to their final destination.