Arizona — angry about the federal government sending from Texas to Arizona immigrants who are in the country illegally — said Friday it will send humanitarian aid to a detention center in the southern part of the state that is holding migrant children.
Gov. Jan Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder said conditions at the detention center are so dire that federal officials have asked the state to immediately ship warehoused medical supplies to the center. In addition, Wilder said, the regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency was being dispatched to Arizona to help deal with the crisis.
Wilder said reports that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was stopping the program to fly migrant families to Arizona and then bus them to Phoenix were incorrect. Instead, the program that has shipped unknown thousands of adult migrants and their children to Arizona since last month shows no sign of stopping, he said.
"The adults, the adults with children, families — that continues unfettered and we have no idea where they are going," Wilder said. "The governor's questions remain unanswered, and she is outraged about the lack of information being provided to the state of Arizona about this program."
In a statement Friday, Homeland Security officials said "appropriate custody determinations will be made on a case by case basis" for migrants apprehended in South Texas.
Brewer sent an angry letter to President Barack Obama on Monday demanding that the program of dropping off families at bus stations in Phoenix stop immediately. She called the program dangerous and unconscionable, asked for details and demanded to know why state authorities weren't consulted or even informed.
Brewer's staff spent Friday in a series of calls with officials from the FEMA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security officials.
Wilder said FEMA's Region 9 administrator was being sent to the detention center in Nogales on Saturday to oversee efforts to deal with the hundreds of arriving children. A total of 432 unaccompanied minors detained in Texas arrived in Nogales on Friday, with 367 more expected both Saturday and Sunday, Wilder said.
Federal authorities plan to use the Nogales facility as a way station, where the children will be vaccinated and checked medically. They will then be sent to facilities being set up in Ventura, California, San Antonio, Texas, and Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
ICE officials have said the immigrants sent to Arizona were mainly families from Central America. They were flown from Texas, released in Arizona and ordered to report to an ICE office near where they were traveling within 15 days.
Immigration officials can immediately return Mexican immigrants to the border, but they are much more hard-pressed to deal with migrants that illegally cross into the U.S. In recent months, waves of Central American migrants have arrived in Texas.
Wilder blamed Obama for creating the situation with his practice of not deporting children or young adults.
"They keep coming. This will not stop. The call has gone out to Central American countries, countries abroad, that if you get here the doors are open," Wilder said. "And if President Obama would put in half the effort to securing out borders that they have put into this operation we would not be in this situation.
"This is a crisis of their own creation, and they are doing nothing to end it."
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