On the issue of immigration, this week we looked at the pandemic’s impact on illegal border crossings and those seeking asylum. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan and other leaders held a news conference at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to recap the agency’s 2020 fiscal year that ended in September. Agents encountered 400,651 people attempting to enter the U.S. illegally, a 53% drop compared to its previous fiscal year.
Morgan also discussed the effects of Title 42 — a policy enacted by President Trump in March, shortly after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic — which allows Border Patrol the ability to circumvent normal processing and return immigrants to Mexico within hours of their arrest. Since March, the agency has carried out nearly 200,000 Title 42 expulsions. The president said the policy curbs the potential spread of COVID-19 from immigrants, but critics accuse the Trump administration of using the pandemic as a red herring to deny immigrants due process.
Morgan discussed Title 42 with Lorraine Rivera, as well as ongoing construction on the new wall system along the southern border.
In Nogales, Sonora, the Kino Border Initiative has seen firsthand the effects of U.S. immigration policies on asylum seekers. The nonprofit provides humanitarian aid to migrants and deportees. Tracy Horan, interim director of education and advocacy, discussed how Kino Border Initiative has adapted its services during the pandemic and what she has heard from asylum seekers who are stranded in Mexico.
Arizonans have two statewide propositions to consider. Proposition 207 would legalize recreational marijuana and Proposition 208 would tax the wealthy to raise funding for public school educators and support staff. Tony Paniagua looked into both and heard from supporters and opponents for each measure.
As more schools welcome students back into the classroom, the threat of COVID-19 still looms. We discussed current trends in Pima County with Dr. Theresa Cullen, director of the Pima County Health Department. Cullen also explained how the county is working with school districts to track and trace positive cases of the disease.
For insight into how COVID-19 affects children, we got insight from Dr. Chan Lowe, division chief of pediatrics at Banner-University Medicine.