It seems that every day, President Joe Biden’s border crisis gets worse and worse. Much of the discussion over the burgeoning disaster centers on the surge of unaccompanied minors and migrant adults building up on the southern border. However, not much attention has been given to the impact the crisis is having on those living in towns on the border that are having difficulty maintaining the level of resources needed to deal with the overflow of migrants that the situation has caused.
Washington Examiner’s Barnini Chakraborty spoke to residents living in border towns in Arizona who told him that the situation is taxing their resources. Local business owner Tim Micklin, who owns a store in Gila Bend, criticized the Biden administration for its lack of honesty about the problem at the border.
“Biden failed to call this a crisis, but this is a crisis,” he said. “I’m telling you, it is a crisis.”
According to the report, Micklin “believes the decisions made in Washington, D.C., are placing a huge burden and siphoning resources in towns that have none to spare.”
He said: “Where do they go? We don’t have the resources to take care of them. Who is going to take care of them?”
Border agents have been using their own discretion to release migrants — some have even been released without receiving a court date. The use of such discretion by Border Patrol is unprecedented and, some say, is a sign of just how overwhelmed parts of the border have become. In the past, migrants released have largely been dropped off at shelters or bus stations. But now, they are being taken to places that don’t have the resources to help, such as Gila Bend and Yuma.
Officials in Gila Bend were informed that the number of weekly releases would increase. Currently, Border Patrol is conducting two releases per week. This has raised concerns not only about the lack of resources to accommodate the increased number of people but also for the safety of those being released.
“To drop people in basically the middle of nowhere, it’s 30 miles to the next type of town, and that’s 30 miles of open desert,” said Mayor Chris Riggs. “So, especially come July and August, we’re going to be finding bodies.”
Micklin echoed the mayor’s dire prediction. “They are going to die out here,” he said. “It’s too hot.”
Chakraborty noted that “the summers in Gila Bend are sweltering, and temperatures can reach up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The landscape is unforgiving.”
He continued: “There are no hospitals or shelters. There are no designated spots where released families can go; neither is there enough money to build said spots. The ratio of open businesses to boarded-up ones is alarming.”
The town’s operations are handled by only five people. In fact, the mayor usually takes off a week at a time to do his “regular job.”
“We barely have enough people to deal with the day-to-day needs of the town,” Riggs explained.
One resident told the Examiner that the last group of 16 people that was dropped off included five families from Venezuela and one from Chile. Each family had small children. One individual believed she was in Delaware and was to be united with her mother.
“They had no idea why they were being dumped,” Riggs said. “Literally, they’d be sleeping at the park, and I’m not going to do that to little children.”
The mayor gathered residents of the town to volunteer to drive migrants to a shelter in Phoenix. The effort was arranged by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Riggs and his wife also helped drive them to the shelter. After he returned, he declared a state of emergency.
Micklin had sharp criticism for the Biden administration.
“Mr. Biden, the temporary president of the United States for three more years, has lied to us,” he said. “So has Kamala Harris. When I first saw the news that they dropped illegals off here, the first thing I thought was, ‘Here we go again.’ We are a country of laws. We also are a country of immigrants, so there’s a right way to come across, and there’s an illegal way.”
A resident named Marie told the Examiner explained that she empathizes with those seeking asylum, but she is not happy about her town being used in this manner. “This isn’t a dumping ground,” she said.
Phoenix resident Zachery Reeves couldn’t hold back his frustration.
Another resident named Zachery Reeves said: “Our economy is hard as it is right now, and then for us to support everybody else…” He continued: “America is a very welcoming country, but right now, we don’t have the resources.”
Reeves also had harsh words for the White House, indicating that it is making the situation worse.
“They will literally gather them until it’s too much for their resources to handle,” he said. “They are already pushing the brink of the resources that they don’t have enough to begin with. Once they get a big bunch, instead of taking them back to the border, they’ll just release them out to the public, and off you go.”
Yuma, which is located about 110 miles west of Gila Bend, is experiencing the same issues. “During the last migrant surge in 2019, the resources that were available mostly dried up, Mayor Douglas Nicholls told the Washington Examiner. The Red Cross, the Salvation Army, community food banks, local businesses, nonprofit groups, and churches had all pitched in,” Chakraborty wrote.
However, this is not the case currently. Many of these organizations are limited with the amount of aid they can provide because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unfortunately, this problem will likely continue to get worse for small border towns in Arizona and other border states. If the Biden administration’s current handling of this problem is any indication, we can expect to see more stories like this in states like Texas, New Mexico, and California. Meanwhile, it appears that the president and his team are not coming up with any valid solutions, meaning that this situation will likely continue into the summer.