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Yuma Officials Tell Congress Migrant Surge Is Overwhelming

Arizona officials told a House committee Tuesday that local law enforcement and health care workers are ill-equipped to handle the recent surge of immigration at the southern border, reports Cronkite News. Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb and Dr. Robert Trenschel of the Yuma Regional Medical Center, testified as part of a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on the “border crisis.” Lamb said human trafficking incidents have grown four-fold over the past two years, while seizures of fentanyl pills have grown by more than 600% in the same period. “Our biggest frustration stems from being told by this administration and the media that there is not a crisis at our southern border, and the lie that our southern border is secure,” Lamb said. “Clearly, our statistics tell a different story. And that story is that the border is not secure.” It was a theme repeated by Republicans through much of the three-hour hearing, where they argued that fentanyl smuggling and human trafficking are harming communities not just along the border, but across the U.S. Democrats shot back that Republicans are not interested in solutions, like immigration reform and addiction treatment, but only in scoring political points with a xenophobic, fear-mongering narrative.

The hearings come as apprehensions at the southern border have fallen sharply, but still remain at record levels, with 2.5 million immigrants apprehended last year, according to Customs and Border Protection data. The agency reported that fentanyl seizures at ports of entry totaled 14,699 pounds in fiscal 2022, just over three times as much as was confiscated in fiscal 2020. Trenschel and Lamb said those issues are spilling over into their communities. “Yuma is only a population of 100,000 people, and we’ve had 300,000 people cross the border in a year, and we’re the only hospital they go to,” Trenschel said. He made a similar plea last week, when Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee held a field hearing in Yuma. Trenschel testified Tuesday that the Yuma Regional Medical Center has racked up $26 million in uncompensated health care in the past year from treating migrants who have no ability to pay. “One hospital should not, and cannot, bear the health care costs of a national migrant problem that is deeply impacting Arizona and our community,” he told the committee.


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