/ Modified mar 25, 2021 8:48 a.m.

Pima County will bus migrants to Tucson

U. S. Border patrol says it can't afford to transport asylum-seekers.

360 nogales asylum seekers Families seeking asylum await processing outside the port of entry in Nogales, Sonora, on Sept. 4, 2018.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors Wednesday voted to pick up the tab for bussing asylum-seeking migrants from outlying desert towns to Tucson shelters, after the Border Patrol started dropping them at places like Ajo and Three Points.

The Border Patrol claims it can't afford to bring them all the way to Tucson without overspending its budget, which is against federal law. County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry says the change is just one of the problems the county is having with the federal agency, which also include poor communication. "The notice is relatively short and sometimes it's significantly inaccurate with regard to the number of individuals being released," Huckelberry told the board at an emergency meeting Wednesday.

The board voted to direct Huckelberry to contract with bus companies to transport the migrants, in the hope that the federal government would reimburse the county later. The no vote came from Republican Supervisor Steve Christy, who said it's a federal problem and the county should stay out of it. "At very least the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the social service entities, the faith-based community who are administering aid, they should be the ones arranging the transportation," Christy said.

The Border Patrol claims it can only afford to take migrants 35 miles from the point where they are taken into custody. In southern Arizona that means places like Ajo, which is two hours' drive from Tucson and has no shelters or other services for them.

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