This graphic shows Border Patrol’s apprehensions of unaccompanied children and families in all nine U.S.-Mexico border sectors since October 2016. The charts explain why three of us from WOLA are on a plane to Arizona right now. (Arizona’s two sectors are highlighted in yellow.)
The part of the border that has seen the most child and family arrivals continues to be south Texas (“Rio Grande Valley”), where we have visited more frequently, last time in December. That sector is getting heavy media attention, as it should.
But the city of Yuma (pop. 95,000) and its surrounding southwest Arizona desert is in second place, in a virtual tie with El Paso, even though it has been one of the border’s quietest regions during the past 10 years. The Tucson sector, which includes the border city of Nogales, comes next, ahead of California and most of Texas.
“Why are violence-fleeing Central Americans suddenly coming to Yuma?” is one of the questions we’ll be asking there, and across the border in San Luis Rio Colorado, tonight and tomorrow. Along with
- “how is Jeff Sessions’ ‘zero tolerance’ policy affecting you”;
- “what is happening to parents and children here”;
- “how are asylum applicants faring at the ports of entry”;
- “what is happening with the new National Guard deployment”;
- “how are the policy changes being felt on Mexico’s side of the border,”
and others. Then we’ll go to Tucson and Nogales (Arizona and Sonora) to ask the same questions. In that more populated area, there is a larger community of migrant shelters, pro bono lawyers and public defenders, journalists, and activists doing important work. We’ll also talk to Border Patrol and any other authorities who will give us a meeting.
The plan is to report from the field as much as possible. Most of that will get posted to WOLA’s website or to social media, but I’ll link from here too.