According to a Fox News report, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) dumped a busload of 700 undocumented immigrants, unaccompanied children under 17 years of age, at a warehouse in Nogales, Arizona. The children were dumped in the warehouse that was set up as a make shift holding center. Governor Jan Brewer is furious that the federal government never formally informed her of the situation before the immigrants were sent to Arizona. Brewer was especially upset over the deplorable conditions of the warehouse – there were no inside plumbing or bathrooms. However, portable toilets, mattresses, and showers were sent by the State of Arizona and are now available to the children.
A DHS official, speaking on condition of anonymity, indicated the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services opened the holding center for the children because they had nowhere else to turn. The younger children and those teenage mothers with small children are being detained separately from the older children. Once processed, DHS will attempt to reunite them with family members already in the US.
Governor Brewer said, “I am disturbed and outraged that President Obama’s administration continues to implement this dangerous and inhumane policy, meanwhile neglecting to answer crucial questions our citizens demand and deserve.” Phoenix has received flights and busloads of immigrants sent from Texas over the last month as well. The number of illegal immigrants, including more than 48,000 children traveling alone, coming into Texas became overwhelming for the Border Control Agents in Texas, so the DHS started flying and busing them to Arizona from the Rio Grande Valley. Many of the immigrants were afraid when they came to Phoenix. According to ABC 15 News Phoenix, one immigrant said the holding facility in Texas “…saw us like animals. Everyone was packed in like sardines. Too close to sleep…I’m happy because we have finally received some help [in Phoenix], but also scared because we don’t know what’s going to happen." She and her son had not bathed or slept in days before being loaded onto a bus and sent to Phoenix. The immigrants were released in Phoenix and told to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office within 15 days.
Arizona has long been criticized over immigration issues, policies, and laws. However, for those not living in a border state, it is easy to judge and envision the situation wrongfully. Most Arizonians have empathy for the plights of those less fortunate – immigrants as well as citizens within the state. The problem in Arizona is the huge numbers of immigrants that have arrived that cannot find work and are unable to provide for themselves and their families. That leads to economic burdens, crime, and human rights violations. Two Phoenix police officers were killed recently (and 5 other police officers in recent years) and human smugglers had drop houses in west Phoenix that detained immigrants without food or water – holding them for ransom rather than safely bringing them to America as promised. Many immigrants traveling alone or in small groups die of dehydration in the Arizona desert as well. A CNN article tells about the attempts of those in Mexico trying to find news about family members that tried to cross the desert and have not been heard from since.
So the dilemma continues – what can be done that is in the best interests of the immigrants and the citizens of the United States? Right now, there’s no easy answer.