Pima County prepares for “frightening” end of Title 42

Fox drone shows a line of hundreds of migrants who crossed illegally into Brownsville, Tex. Tuesday evening. || Twitter

Nicole Ludden


As Pima County readies to receive what could be thousands of asylum seekers when Title 42 ends May 11, it’s preparing resources with the key goal of avoiding releasing incoming migrants on the streets.

The county is working with federal partners, but “May 11 is a day that is fairly frightening for some of us,” nonetheless, County Administrator Jan Lesher told the Board of Supervisors at its meeting Tuesday during a discussion of the end of Title 42.

Title 42 was enacted at the beginning of the pandemic and allows the federal government to immediately expel some migrants from the country. The policy is set to end on May 11 when the COVID-19 public health emergency will expire.

The average daily number of migrants entering Pima County ranged from 224 to 770 throughout 2022, but Border Patrol estimates place the number between 1,200 to 1,500 people per day when Title 42 ends.

“The philosophy that’s driving everything we’re doing now is that we’re saying there will not be street releases in this community. And if we say that, then that means we’re going to provide certain kinds of services,” Lesher said.

That means increasing trips from places like the Nogales Port of Entry and Border Patrol processing center on east Los Reales Road to the Casa Alitas Welcome Center run by Catholic Community Services that provides short-term shelter to migrants. The county also coordinates transportation from the welcome center to migrant shelter services in Phoenix.

Asylum seekers typically stay at shelters in Tucson for a few days, enough time to arrange transportation to other cities where they can live with relatives and friends while their asylum claims are processed.


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May 2023