U.S. cities far from Mexico are feeling the effects of immigrants being released into the United States as an influx of asylum-seekers are being processed and dropped off at shelters and bus stations.
Immigration officials are considering cities in states like Florida, Michigan, and New York to help process immigrants before they move on to their final destination, which could be anywhere in the United States.
Already in areas hours away from the Mexican border, sometimes hundreds of immigrants a day are given temporary housing in makeshift places such as an airplane hangar or rodeo fairgrounds. Local authorities are struggling to keep up with demands.
The border crisis finds local authorities and nonprofits tasked with providing shelter for a night or two, a few meals, and travel assistance so that immigrants are not left on the streets en route to their destinations with relatives, friends, or any other arrangements they may have.
The issue created a political disturbance in Florida when Governor Ron DeSantis said he strongly opposed receiving immigrants in Broward and Palm Beach counties from the southern border.
Florida cannot accommodate “dumping unlawful immigrants into our state,” DeSantis said after a bill-signing event in Sarasota, Florida, in mid-May.
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw also spoke out at a local press conference against having illegal immigrants—who have not been screened or medically checked and with no background checks made—possibly being dropped off in his area.
Handling things differently
Yet, not everyone shares the views of Florida officials.
Blythe, California, a remote desert town, has helped hundreds of homeless immigrants reach shelters for short term stays.
Before releasing immigrants into the United States, generally, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ensures that families have travel plans.
However, with an exponential increase in illegal immigrant crossings from Mexico, detainment stays have been shortened to expedite new arrivals. ICE began dropping migrants off in cities along the border at overflowing shelters and bus stations.
At the same time, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has begun flying immigrants to other cities for processing and is releasing them directly into communities without going through ICE because facilities are at full capacity.
In Las Cruces, Deming, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, officials have embraced relocation and relief efforts. New Mexico and Colorado have quietly agreed to drop off some immigrants in Denver.
Furthermore, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham paid to bus immigrants to Denver to alleviate the strain on New Mexico and said the state will offer reimbursement to local government agencies helping immigrants.
Las Cruces—46 miles north of El Paso, Texas—has a population of about 100,000 people and about 6,500 immigrants have been dropped off by Border Patrol since April 12.
Includes reporting by The Associated Press