Since late last year Central American migrants have been transported to the City of Tucson and left at our downtown Greyhound Bus Station. These are families who have been detained and processed for deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE.) They are legally allowed to remain in the U.S. while awaiting deportation hearings. That process can take up to 3 years to complete.
Customs and Border Patrol and ICE issued a statement related to these families. Here’s a portion of that Release:
“The family units will be released under supervision and required to report in to a local ICE office near their destination address within 15 days, where their cases will be managed in accordance with current ICE enforcement priorities.”
These families are left downtown, often with no money, clothing or food and a built-in language barrier. Hundreds have gone through this dehumanizing experience in the recent past. And we have no reason to expect that the flow is going to ease up any time soon.
Getting through Tucson can take from 1 to 3 days, depending on where the closest family member is located and the difficulty in getting there by bus. While here, these families simply cannot be left on their own. We have the capacity to help, and it is with that in mind that a group of us have formed with the intent of assisting the families’ transition through Tucson.
My staff and I are joined by members of the Jewish Federation, Catholic Community Services, the Red Cross, Operation Deep Freeze and Americorps in forming a steering committee aimed at gathering and distributing to these families the resources they’re in need of. This work has been carried by Casa Mariposa up until now, but the sheer volume of incoming families has outpaced the ability of that group to keep up with the needs. We are a compassionate community and each of us involved with this outreach is confident that the outpouring of support will be more than sufficient to address the needs. Our role is simply planning and coordinating the assistance.
While we have numerous non-governmental organizations and non-profit agencies who are each individually willing to lend a hand, what is needed is a coordinated response. I believe it’s appropriate that some City representation is included in that effort. None of the individual agencies has the capacity to fully address the array of needs we’re seeing. But acting together this community can put in place a response that effectively addresses the needs we’re seeing. None of us knows how long this flow of families will continue, but we are committed to doing what we can while it’s still a manageable situation.
Ultimately this is a Federal issue to resolve. And yet the local impact is undeniable. It would be inhumane and irresponsible for the leadership of our City to ignore the role we can play in meeting the needs that are before us. I’m grateful to the non-profit groups who have stepped up and chosen to take an active role in touching these lives. Our steering committee does not pretend to have the solution to this problem. What we are sure of is that as we put into place the details of the response plan Tucsonans will show their true hearts once again and provide the resources needed to address the needs we are seeing.
If you can help in any way, please call us at the Ward 6 office at 791.4601. At some point in time the Feds will get their act together and the strain on local resources will lighten up. But until that happens, we have a duty to help where we can. The steering committee looks forward to hearing from you. None of us can solve the issues we’re seeing alone. Your role is humanitarian, and necessary.
Tucson City Council – Ward 6