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Border cities prepare for influx of migrants

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TUCSON (KVOA) -- Border towns and cities are gearing up for an influx of migrants being dropped off because of the Migrant Protections Protocols Program.

Since President Biden took office, he has been working to reform our immigration system.

Here in Tucson, Pima County officials and local nonprofits have stepped up to help shelter migrants, before they make it to their final destination.

So, what about the smaller towns that don't have those resources?

"They have previous stats under President Obama's administration, but they said that they could potentially have 30 people a day dropped off in Willcox," Caleb Blaschke, Willcox city manager said. "And that is a lot of people in our small community."

Blaschke said Willcox is preparing for an increase of migrants being dropped off there. The border city is about 90 minutes north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

"So if they release them into our community, they give them a court date," Blaschke said. "So they can't work during that time. So they just live in a state of limbo where they're homeless. That's something that's concerning to our city because we don't have the resources again and we don't have the facilities."

Talks on how to handle the influx are underway between Cochise County officials and other city leaders. For now, the biggest obstacle for small cities like Willcox is transportation.

"So what we're focusing on and collaborating with our partners is to look into some beefing up transportation opportunities," Judy Lynn, Cochise County emergency management director said. "So whether that's providing vouchers if needed to take Grey Hound Buses, looking into shuttles."

Next week, city leaders are set to discuss transportation and how they can work with shelters in Pima County to help bridge the gap and keep migrants off the streets.

"Moving folks toward the larger welcome centers in Tucson and in Phoenix is really going to be the best plan," Lynn said.

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