/ Modified may 26, 2023 2:32 p.m.

Cochise Supervisors Discuss impact of Title 42 removal

The numbers were not so large as predicted.

360 douglas border patrol A border patrol vehicle drives along the border wall in Douglas, Ariz. January 2021.
Robert Lindberg/AZPM Staff

Two weeks after the federal government’s termination of Title 42 — the federal pandemic policy that allowed migrants to be expelled immediately at the border — Cochise County officials say that there hasn’t been too much of an impact.

While there was a surge of street releases into Cochise County prior to the expiration of the federal policy. Street releases mean migrants in border patrol custody were released directly to the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs’ transportation program.

In a work session on Thursday, Cochise County’s Director of Emergency Management Daniel Duchon said that the overall impact of the removal of Title 42 was not as much as expected.

“You can see it peaked there right before May 11th, which is what a lot of the projections were kinda a rush leading up to the Title 42 removals being rescinded,” said Duchon. “So that did come into fruition. And then over the course of the next week or so, it steadily dropped.”

The peak release in Cochise County was 320, on May 11 — the last day of Title 42 was in effect. Duchon said that number doesn’t fall outside of the norm.

“For those of us who’ve lived in Cochise County for quite some time know that 200-300 people crossing the border in a day really isn’t a new thing,” said Duchon.

Duchon says there were no unsheltered releases in Cochise County, which means no migrants were released from border patrol custody without pre-arranged transportation or shelter.

He credits Cochise, Pima, and Santa Cruz County along with AZ DEMA for their preparation for providing transport and shelter capacity.

“Pima County stepped up huge and worked with Casa Alitas Welcome Center and opened a second center,” said Duchon. “The City of Tucson, they had several overflow hotels that they had. And, we did have some shelter capacity in Cochise County. So, it went very well.”

The First Presbyterian Church in Douglas was asked by Border Patrol and the City of Douglas to shelter asylum seekers according to co-minister Reverend Peggy Christiansen. She said that since Title 42’s expiration, they haven’t been needed for shelter. Thus, no one was ever housed at the church.

The church was one of two in Douglas that went up in flames on May 22. No injuries were reported.

While Cochise County Supervisors Peggy Judd and Ann English expressed gratitude and relief, Supervisor Tom Crosby wasn’t satisfied.

“Of course, it’s a disaster, of course, our country is going down the tubes,” said Crosby. “I don’t know why you can’t see that.”

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