- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 9, 2018

PHOENIX (AP) - Hundreds of asylum-seeking migrant families detained in Arizona are being released because authorities don’t have the resources to handle a new influx of adults with children asking to stay in the United States, immigration officials said Tuesday.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials did not say how many migrants were being released beginning Sunday, but KTAR news radio has reported more than 400 people have been freed so far to await their amnesty claims.

Abeth Spencer, a spokeswoman at Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix, said about 100 migrants were taken there on Monday.

Another 100 people were dropped off at a church-run shelter in Tucson over the weekend.

ICE spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts O’Keefe said Tuesday the agency is releasing the families because it doesn’t have the capacity to deal with a high volume of migrant families showing up at Arizona’s border with Mexico. Past court rulings limit how long minors can be held in immigration custody.

The families being released must provide the address of their destination in the U.S., and then check in with immigration authorities once they get there. The nonprofit groups receiving the families help find places for them to stay until they can get them to their U.S.-based relatives.

ICE often frees families who still face immigration court proceedings for a lack of detention space or court-imposed limits on how long they can be held. But officials with the nonprofits helping them said the recent release was larger than usual, at least in Arizona.

“We have hosted people here for years, but ICE usually brings us only 20 people, not 100,” said Spencer of Shadow Rock church.

Smugglers in recent months have been abandoning large groups of Guatemalan and other Central American migrants near Arizona’s boundary with Mexico, alarming Border Patrol officials who say the trend puts the safety of hundreds of children and adults at risk.

Collectively, more than 1,400 migrants have been found left by smugglers in remote areas of the Arizona-Mexico border since Aug. 20, according to the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector.

It was not immediately clear if the migrant families released were among those who had been abandoned by smugglers along the border.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide