WILLCOX — The Willcox City Council has invited Alexander Blais of the U.S. Border Patrol to speak about the arrest and release policies regarding undocumented immigrants.
The next city council meeting is Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
According to an email from Willcox City Manager Caleb Blaschke to Mayor Mike Laws and city council members dated Feb. 11, Willcox Border Patrol Station Commander Brian Conrad called him and mentioned that “due to the new administration, policies have been changed on arresting and releasing undocumented immigrants.”
Blaschke detailed how the new policy affects Willcox.
“The new policy is to arrest undocumented immigrants, schedule a court date and release them if they have no criminal record,” Blaschke said. “Most undocumented immigrants do not have money so they rely on the community they are taken to for assistance. Our local Border Patrol Station understands that we do not have services available to support undocumented immigrants within Willcox. Therefore, before undocumented immigrants are brought to Willcox, they will have exhausted resources in other cities including Tucson, Nogales, Douglas, Naco and Casa Grande.”
The Willcox Border Patrol Station is considering the following options if undocumented immigrants are released in Willcox:
Option 1: Transport undocumented immigrants to local Greyhound Bus Services and release (If undocumented immigrants do not have money for transportation, they will effectively be homeless. The city could anticipate loitering and nuisance calls as a result, further straining the police department. In addition, the hospital could anticipate a strain on its resources).
Option 2: Transport undocumented immigrants to Benson via Greyhound or Amtrak Train (Amtrak travels through Benson every three days. This would provide undocumented immigrants additional options if they have family located in other states. If undocumented immigrants can prove they have family within the United States, they are released to the area where their family exists. Again, if they do not have money for transportation, they will be homeless and Benson unfortunately will have to deal with the repercussions).
Option 3: Release at the Willcox Border Patrol Station (Same issues as above).
Blaschke said that although the city is kind and welcoming, Willcox does not have the resources (housing, food support services, health care) to sustain undocumented immigrants for an extended period of time.
“I believe we all worry about the lives of these immigrants and possibly their children who would live on the streets in our or other cities,” Blaschke said. “Due to immigration laws, these undocumented immigrants are not allowed to work and provide support for themselves or their families until after their court date.”
All city council meetings are open to the public and Blais will be on hand to answer questions that city council members or the public might have.
Arizona Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema have been made aware of the situation and were copied on Blaschke’s email.
The Herald/Review will be in attendance for this event. Recap to follow.