YUMA, Ariz. – On July 10 and 11, Yuma Mayor Douglas J. Nicholls joined a mayors' delegation from the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) in El Paso, Texas, for a roundtable discussion with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan. The mayors visited the Port of Entry Crossing at the Bridge of the Americas, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection migrant processing facilities.
In a private roundtable discussion with Acting Secretary McAleenan, the mayors discussed how to continue to urge for federal-level fixes to the migrant release and humanitarian crisis experienced across the southern border and felt throughout the United States.
Mayor Nicholls has been urging the federal government to aid border communities experiencing high volumes of migrant family units released by U.S. Border Patrol since April, when the temporary Yuma shelter run by community non-profits far exceeded its maximum capacity. He declared a local state of emergency in Yuma on April 16, to urge for federal government action, and pressed for releases not to happen in communities with populations less than one million, like Yuma.
In June, the mayor testified before the U.S. House Budget Committee on the economic impacts of the migrant releases and humanitarian border crisis.
Despite a slow in apprehensions by USBP during the summer months, Mayor Nicholls talked with DHS Sec. McAleenan about his concern that numbers would increase again soon.
Mayor Nicholls shared this would be detrimental to economies of border cities like Yuma, given the importance of workers and commerce during the multibillion dollar winter produce season that supports 70 percent of the local economy.
"We're dealing with the same crisis, one that is humanitarian and about our public's safety," Nicholls said. "A solution is needed now, and Congress needs to come together with a fix to the immigration system's legal framework."
Following the roundtable discussion with Acting Sec. McAleenan, the mayors held a press conference in the City Hall of El Paso.
In the press conference, Mayor Dee Margo of El Paso shared similar concerns that the distribution of customs officials away from the border would slow down the processing and have a dramatic effect on border cities' economies.
In addition to Mayor Nicholls, the delegation led by the USCM included:
- Mayor of El Paso, Dee Margo
- Mayor of Rochester Hills, Bryan Barnett
- Mayor of Mesa, John Giles
- Mayor of Las Cruces, Ken Miyagashima
- Mayor of Albuquerque, Tim Keller
- Mayor of Killeen, Jose Segarra