Even if the end of Title 42 enforcement brought fewer asylum seekers than expected. The biggest local shelter was close to the breaking point.
One week after Title 42 lifted, the Casa Alitas shelter says the biggest surge came in the days before that regulation formally went away. But capacity was still strained and now theres the question of what will happen if the Federal Government stops funding the shelters.
Title 42 is a health regulation the Trump Administration, and later the Biden administration used to turn away asylum seekers in the name of stopping the spread of COVID.
There were plenty of forecasts that predicted a huge surge of asylum seekers the moment Title 42 lifted a week ago.
But border crossings, especially the one at Nogales, stayed quiet.
Casa Alitas director Teresa Cavendish says the surge actually came days before Title 42 ended. She says asylum seekers seemed to think it was better to try entry under 42 than the rules taking its place.
But Cavendish says when Title 42 did lift there were still people in the shelter from that earlier surge
Who we were still trying to circulate through our various hotels and shelters and transit systems. And then there certainly was a continuously high number of folks that came in after title 42 But that has abated to a certain extent.
Pima County and the City of Tucson say the shelter had so many people they almost had to resort to releasing people to the street but the City of Tucson opened motel space to avoid an overflow.
Because they see immigration as a Federal issue, the County and City have committed to pay for shelters with Federal money, not local tax dollars.
But the question is what will happen if the Federal money stops coming and the migrants dont.
Pima County spokesperson Mark Evans says, We don’t know. If for whatever reason the federal government says yeah, we’re not going to award you any more money, but we’re going to continue to release people into your community. Then the local governments are going to have to consider what we’re going to do about it.
And County and City say local services could suffer if local dollars have to cover the cost.