The following letter, drafted by Willcox City Manager Caleb Blaschke, outlines concerns shared by Cochise County mayors regarding the influx of immigrants coming across the Southwest border. The letter — signed by the mayors of Benson, Willcox, Douglas, Bisbee and Sierra Vista — was read by Benson Mayor Joe Konrad at the Benson City Council meeting Monday evening.
“As representatives of local government, we are nonpartisan and speak for the interest of our communities. We recognize that border security and immigration are topics that bring with them different thoughts and feelings from our local constituents.
“Recently, new policies have been instituted regarding the capture, containment and release of undocumented immigrants. The communities that these policies affect have not been consulted with, but now must deal with the issue. The new policy requires that the USBP, upon capturing undocumented immigrants, process them at the closest BP station where they will then be released into the local community with a future date ranging from six months to six years.
“During this time, undocumented immigrants are not allowed to hold occupations to provide for themselves and their families.
“Potential release sites where Border Patrol stations exist in Cochise County include Willcox and Douglas.
“However, the residual effects spread beyond these locations because these cities have no shelters, food services, health support or transportation. Undocumented immigrants will be transported at nearby cities including Benson and Sierra Vista. Unlike larger cities, municipalities in Cochise County do not have resources to address the needs of undocumented immigrants. Our communities already have small budgets with limited law enforcement.
“It is unfortunate that the federal government has chosen to enact a policy with no local input, thereby placing a detrimental burden on small, rural communities in Cochise County. On behalf of our citizens, we ask that you do not release undocumented immigrants into our communities where needs are already significant due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Instead, we hope that you will establish policies and funding to transport undocumented immigrants to predetermined locations where resources do exist.”