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December 5th, 2023
Rep. Grijalva Demands Answers from Biden Admin on Lukeville Border Closure, Lack of Resources for Southern Arizona Communities, Calls for FEMA to Assist with Humanitarian Crisis

WASHINGTON – Today, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-07) sent a letter to President Joseph R. Biden and Department of Homeland Secretary (DHS) Alejandro Mayorkas calling to reopen the Lukeville Port of Entry (POE) and to address the lack of resources for southern Arizona communities to manage the ongoing humanitarian crisis describing the current situation as “unsustainable and a dereliction of federal responsibility”. He also urged the Biden administration to deploy the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as done in the past, to assist with migrant influxes.

On the Lukeville POE closure, Rep. Grijalva writes:

“We require an immediate surge in resources and staffing in southern Arizona but recent actions including closing the Lukeville Port of Entry (POE) are unnecessary and inclusively force migrants to even more dangerous areas as they attempt to exercise their international right to seek asylum. In addition, the small number of agents from Lukeville reassigned to respond will only make a marginal impact. An indefinite closure of Lukeville is a major disruption to the borderland communities I represent and many across the state of Arizona. I urge you to reconsider this closure and consult with local stakeholders including the Tohono O’odham Nation.”

In the letter, Rep. Grijalva points out the unfair distribution of federal dollars to other parts of the nation while Arizona communities on the frontlines continue to lack critical funding and will run out of existing funds without additional federal assistance:

“As cities and counties across the nation manage their influxes of migrants, I am acutely aware of the unfair shift in federal dollars to other parts of the country resulting in less funding and resources for border states like Arizona on the frontlines of the humanitarian crisis. Pima County is spending close to $4 million a month in federal funds and is due to run out within the next few months despite assisting and processing more migrants than before. Several southern Arizona municipalities I represent remain increasingly concerned that once funding runs dry, they will no longer be able to provide asylum seekers with critical resources like temporary housing or transportation. These localities deserve answers.” 

On Rep. Grijalva’s request to deploy FEMA, he writes:

“I am calling upon the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to use all available resources and direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support the response to the recent migrant surges. As you may recall, in 2021 DHS directed FEMA to support a government-wide effort to safely receive, shelter, and transfer unaccompanied children who made the dangerous journey to the U.S. southwest border. I believe the current situation deserves a humane emergency response from all sectors of DHS, including FEMA.”

He concludes the letter acknowledging the current political circumstances and calls out Republicans for their continued roadblocks and refusal to pass comprehensive immigration reform:

“I recognize more and more migrants will continue to make their way to our southern border to claim their international and domestic right to seek asylum and refugee status. A supplemental package that brings resources to manage the crisis and meaningful comprehensive immigration reform is the only path forward. Congress must make concerted efforts to deal with the root causes of migration. As it stands, the hateful and sabotaging tactics of the Republicans in Congress will not solve or lessen the crisis. Moving forward, I stand ready to work with your administration on ways to alleviate pressure on frontline Arizona communities impacted by the ongoing humanitarian crisis and pass the critical legislation necessary to reform our broken immigration system.”

The full letter can be found here.

The letter translated into Spanish can be found here. La carta en español se puede encontrar aquí.

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