An Arizona mayor has declared a state of emergency over the number of migrants coming to the city of Yuma. The city is located less than twenty miles from San Luis Río Colorado, Mexico, across the border.
Nicholls hopes other border communities will do the same in order that they may collectively call on greater federal aid.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Nicholls is the 27th Mayor of the City of Yuma
Doug Nicholls has been Mayor of Yuma since 2014. He was elected to his second term in August 2017. Nicholls is a Republican. He is from Yuma and married his high school girlfriend, with whom he has four children. Nicholls holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Arizona State University and later studied Transportation Engineering.
According to the official website for the city of Yuma, Nicholls “leads efforts to develop economic development advancements throughout the greater Yuma community through enhanced regional coordination and the 4FrontED coalition to work with partners within Yuma County and our neighboring cities in Mexico.”
The 4FrontED coalition is “a binational initiative aiming to boost economic development, commerce, tourism and education in the greater Yuma County and San Luis Rio Colorado border region” between the US and Mexico, according to the organization’s Facebook page.
2. Yuma has a Population of About 100,000
The city of Yuma is located in the southwest corner of Arizona.
According to CNN, “The Border Patrol has released more than 11,000 migrant family members at nongovernmental shelters or bus stations along the border since March 19 when it began the practice of releasing noncriminal families directly from custody with notices to appear in court ‘as a last resort’ as apprehensions spiked.”
Mayor Nicholls explained migrant families released to the shelter are waiting to be transported to cities throughout the nation; they are not staying in the Yuma community, according to the City of Yuma’s website. Nicholls said the transportation in place could not adequately support moving the migrants to other destinations and the shelter was overfull.
“Migrants continue to be released at a rate that cannot be sustained, overwhelming the current non-profit shelter system,” Nicholls said.
3. Nicholls Wants More Federal Aid to Yuma and Cities Like it
Nicholls said the declaration would indicate to other communities there is a need for federal help.
“By signing this proclamation we are looking to do a couple of things. Making sure that, not just locally but throughout the country, it is clear that we are in a position that needs to be rectified on a national level. Not just within the resources of our Yuma community,” Nicholls said in an announcement.
“Two is to try to avert the threat of hundreds of people roaming the streets looking to satisfy basic human needs in our community and not having the resources to do so and the reaction of the citizens of Yuma looking to protect their property and their way of life.”
4. Federal Leaders Visited Yuma After the Declaration
Republican Sen. Martha McSally visited Yuma on Wednesday.
McSally said, “We shouldn’t allow this to continue to happen. It is a pull factor. The crisis continues to get worse. The cartels continue to profit off it. The humanitarian crisis is severe. We now are hearing reports of children being recycled back to Central America to then be brought back up again. Because the message is being sent if you show up with a kid you’re going to be let go,” reports Fox News.
California Republican Representative Duncan Hunter also visited Yuma Wednesday. In a video, he said a state of local emergency was in effect because of “illegal aliens crossing the border by the hundreds and the thousands.”
President Trump visited Yuma in 2017. Earlier this month Trump visited the border at Calexico, California where he surveyed a 30-foot section of replacement border fence installed in 2018.
5. Nicholls Wants “FEMA-like” Support
“With a ‘heavy heart,’ the mayor said he signed the document as a means to seek resources and to protect residents and vulnerable migrants.
‘… the mass release of migrant families from federal detention facilities into the City of Yuma without provisions for adequate food, water, shelter and medical care threatens to cause injury, damage and suffering to persons and property located in the City of Yuma, Yuma County, Arizona as well as causing a humanitarian crisis,’ the proclamation read,” according to AZCentral.
Migrants to Yuma often cannot afford the tickets to be bused elsewhere despite having other cities as their destinations. More people, then, fill the shelter in Yuma.
“Customs and Border Protection, which includes the Border Patrol, said on Tuesday that agents in the Yuma area had processed more than 1,000 migrants, mostly families and minors, in the past three days,” reports AZ Central.
March saw record numbers for border crossings as migrants rush to stay ahead of President Trump’s crackdown on immigration.
“Migrants continue to be released at a rate that cannot be sustained, overwhelming the current non-profit shelter system,” Mayor Nicholls said in an announcement of the emergency declaration.