PHOENIX - Migrant numbers are overwhelming Arizona border facilities, forcing agents to release them onto the streets.
However, the counties the migrants are ending up in don’t have the basic resources to help them.
According to latest numbers, the Tucson sector had the most encounters out of the entire southwest border. There were 39,215 arrests in July, which was up 60% from June. Officials attribute the sudden influx to false advertising by smugglers, who tell migrants it’s easier to cross this part of the U.S.-Mexico Border, and get released into the United States.
"They have 34,000 beds, no more.," said John Fabbricatore, a retired ICE Field Office Director. "Those beds are already taken up, so as thousands and thousands more people come across the border, there's nowhere to put them right now."
Fabbricatore shared photos from a recent trip to Ajo, a town in Pima County. The photos show migrants being detained in an outdoor holding facility as the Tucson sector becomes overwhelmed, and CBP facilities are at capacity.
"Since there's nowhere to house them, they are just simply giving them what's called a ‘Notice to Appear’ in front of an immigration judge," said Fabbricatore. "They issued them the Notice to Appear, and then, they released them on their own recognizance. There's two million case backlog in the immigration court, so some of these case, dates that they're putting on those [Notices to Appear] are five to seven years down the road from now."
The sector has seen around 2,000 illegal crossings a day for three days.
"The next thing I see is 136 migrants who had crossed illegally," said Fabbricatore. "The cartel, about another mile up the road, had cut a small hole through the fence. There were over 300 by the time Border Patrol had gotten out there, and there were four agents to almost 300 illegal."
Agents have resorted to so-called street releases to alleviate packed shelters, with many going to Cochise County.
"The last numbers I got was 235 were street releases in Cochise County," said Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels.
Sheriff Dannels says they are used to seeing border-related crimes, like human trafficking and drug smuggling, but the humanitarian aspect is something they are not equipped to handle.
"We're a rural county, lacking essential resources for people like this that need those logistical resources," Sheriff Dannels. "We have citizens stepping up. We have churches stepping up. We have a lot of people stepping up trying to make this better, along with law enforcement. Our mayor's doing everything we can."
For now, Sheriff Dannels expects to get more street releases in the coming days, unless the Cartels shift their latest smuggling pattern.