Governor Jan Brewer says neither her office nor the Arizona Department of Public Safety had any idea that the federal government was dumping off migrants by the busload in Phoenix in Tucson.
Brewer, in a letter to President Obama, says her administration learned from news media reports that about 400 migrants were flown to Phoenix or Tucson from Texas, where they had been taken into custody by Border Patrol.
According to reports, federal authorities say there's no room at detention facilities in the southern edge of Texas, so migrants from Central American countries who've been apprehended recently have been transferred to other locations.
The migrants have been dropped off at bus stops, and told to report to the nearest Immigration and Customs Enforcement office within 15 days.
"Media reports indicate that many of the illegal aliens that DHS is releasing into Arizona from Texas are women, children, and unaccompanied juveniles," Brewer's letter says. "The reports also indicate that DHS has abandoned these individuals at the bus stations without any food, water or basic necessities. I remind you that the daytime temperatures in Arizona during this time of year are regularly more than 100 degrees. Consequently, this federal operation seems to place expediency over basic humanitarian concerns. The federal government should not shirk its lawful responsibility to care for and properly process these individuals."
Indeed, there have been local volunteer groups in both Phoenix and Tucson that have been trying to help feed and house some of these families. (Find a report from Phoenix here, and Tucson here.) Those volunteers say this has been going on for months, but not on this scale -- not with hundreds of people being released in one weekend.
Brewer's tone in the letter -- which you can read here -- is reminiscent of her finger-wagging days, when anti-immigration rhetoric was her bread and butter.
"Our nation and the State of Arizona face significant challenges stemming from your administration's refusal to carry out its responsibility to secure our country's southern border," the letter says. "State and local governments, law enforcement agencies, health care providers and non-profit organizations are all stretched to the breaking point attempting to manage the enormity of these challenges. By systematically transporting and releasing more illegal aliens into Arizona, your administration will exacerbate this problem."
There was a point to the letter -- Brewer's seeking answers to questions about this dump-immigrants-at-bus-stops policy:
1. Who authorized this policy, and why has the federal government selected Arizona as the target?
2. When was the policy initiated, and how much longer is the operation expected to proceed?
3. How many aliens have been transported from other states to Arizona and released through this operation?
4. How many aliens have designated Arizona as their ultimate destination?
5. How many aliens are designated as a "family unit," and how many have been designated as "unaccompanied juveniles?"
6. What does the federal government know about the backgrounds and histories of the aliens being transported and released in Arizona?
7. What proactive steps is DRS or any other federal agency undertaking to establish emergency housing/detention space to properly process those aliens?
8. What has caused this massive influx of illegal aliens such that federal operations in Texas are unable to handle the processing of these individuals?
9. What is being done to secure the border in Texas to prevent the continued illegal crossings that have "forced" the federal government to transport illegal aliens from Texas and release them in Arizona?
Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.
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