May 9, 2023 - Politics

Hobbs outlines plans for Title 42 end but many details still unclear

A woman stands at a lectern with a microphone in front of United States and Arizona flags.

Gov. Katie Hobbs discusses Title 42 yesterday with Arizona Division of Emergency Management director Allen Clark. Photo: Jeremy Duda/Axios

Gov. Katie Hobbs pledged to ratchet up the state's response to an influx of migrants across the Arizona-Mexico border expected when the federal policy known as Title 42 expires Thursday, but many details remain unclear.

Catch up quick: Former President Trump enacted Title 42 in 2020 to automatically expel migrants crossing the border on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Driving the news: Hobbs outlined a five-point strategy at a press conference Monday that includes Department of Public Safety assistance to local law enforcement; partnerships with local governments, nonprofits and others; transporting and sheltering migrants; and taking executive action, if needed.

  • She said she'll step up efforts to transport legal immigrants released by Customs and Border Patrol into border communities, an effort she continued from the administration of former Gov. Doug Ducey.
  • Hobbs also plans to increase resources for shelters to house released migrants.

Why it matters: Border-area communities often lack resources to handle the numbers of migrants who cross the border.

  • That led Yuma Mayor Douglas Nicholls, who spoke at Hobbs' press conference, to declare a state of emergency in his city.
  • An increased number of people crossing the border will also require an uptick in humanitarian services.

Yes, but: The Hobbs administration didn't have many details regarding the resources she'll put into the state's Title 42 response, how much of an increase she's planning for transportation and shelter, and what kinds of executive actions she's willing to take.

  • That's because they don't know how much of an increase they'll see in border crossings, Hobbs said.
  • "We don't know what the need is actually going to be," she said. "We are going to respond to the need that's on the ground."
  • The only potential executive action she cited was an increase in Arizona National Guard troops in the border region, which would add to the 180 already there.

Between the lines: Amanda Aguirre, who runs the Regional Center for Border Health, which buses asylum seekers, tells Axios Phoenix her nonprofit has been running eight to nine buses per day. She estimates they'll double those efforts based on the expected surge.

By the numbers: Nicholls said the surge in border crossings has already begun, and policies like Hobbs' are needed to ease the burden.

  • About a month ago, 300 people crossed daily in the Yuma sector, he said, jumping to 500 two weeks later and 1,000 on Sunday.
  • As of 8am Monday, 500 migrants had already crossed.
  • "It's going to be greater than anything we have seen in the past. The influx has already begun," Nicholls said.

The bottom line: Hobbs, Nicholls and others at the press conference emphasized the responsibility for responding to the problem lies primarily with the U.S. government.

  • Hobbs sent Biden and Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas a letter last month seeking increased federal resources ahead of the end of Title 42.
  • She said the administration's response so far has been inadequate.

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