YUMA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5)– The U.S. Customs and Border Protection sector in Yuma has had to set up awnings and temporary fencing and keep some migrants outside because its detention centers are over capacity, a spokesman told Arizona’s Family on Tuesday.
Yuma agents apprehended more than 1,500 migrants over a 3-day period through Monday, said Yuma Sector Border Patrol spokesman Vincent Dulesky. Between fiscal years 2008 and 2017, the Yuma sector averaged between 486 and 1,180 apprehensions a month.
The detention facilities in the Yuma sector have a capacity of 400 people, Dulesky said.
"We’re packing them into our holding areas," Dulesky said. "If this keeps up, it’s going beyond that and we’re going to have to have a temporary housing facility — whether it be tents or what-have-you."
On Monday alone, Border Patrol agents in Yuma took more than 700 undocumented immigrants into custody. The day before, agents Tweeted that they encountered a single group of more than 140 Central American migrants.
"It’s a logistical nightmare. We’re not equipped to handle large groups like that,” Dulesky said.
Agents say they are using modified pick-up trucks to move the migrants because they don’t have enough buses. Moving 6 to 8 people at a time from a remote location takes a lot of time and a large portion of their fleet, Dulesky said.
Dulesky said in the last three weeks, Yuma agents have averaged 350 to 400 apprehensions a day. “And it’s going up. It’s not going down," he said.
Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls said in an interview Tuesday that there’s been no significant impact on city services yet, but he said the non-profit shelters have been overwhelmed.
"This is not a sustainable situation. And the numbers are growing,” Nicholls said. "Overnight, we were 50 percent over capacity so we’re definitely in the range where things are tight and not very comfortable at all.”
It’s only going to get tighter in the coming days, Nicholls said, as Border Patrol processes and releases people from its detention centers.
Mayor Nicolls met with President Donald Trump last week to talk about the situation in Yuma.
Sen. Martha McSally is also pushing a federal package with about $3.3 billion in aid for border towns, like Yuma.