With the sudden daily release of more than a hundred migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., the sheriff of Arizona’s easternmost border county, overwhelmed by the abrupt demand, asked state and federal officials for help. Sheriff Mark Dannels of Cochise County said that the rural area doesn’t have shelters or other infrastructure to attend to the needs of migrants, many of them from faraway countries in western Africa and Southeast Asia, according to the Associated Press. “We don’t have any resources at all to house these people,” said Douglas, Ariz., Mayor Donald Huish. The officials said Customs and Border Protection (CBP) struggled with arrivals and began releasing the migrants into small communities such as Douglas and Bisbee on Wednesday and continued on Thursday.
Officials said many migrants are being transported out of the area to a Tucson shelter on buses paid for by Pima County with federal grant funding. CBP did not address why Cochise County was chosen for releases but said it is “working according to plan and as part of our standard processes” to get people quickly out of detention facilities before they become overcrowded. It said it aims to “safely and efficiently screen and process migrants to place them in immigration enforcement proceedings consistent with our laws.” While asylum-seekers who are allowed to remain in the U.S. are sheltered for a few days by nonprofit organizations that then help them make contact with and travel to stay with relatives in other parts of the country pending their immigration court dates, those organizations don’t exist in remote areas like Cochise County.