PHOENIX (AP) ̵
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed to the Associated Press on Friday that it had been asked to get rid of immigrants outside the facilities instead of shrugging them.
For years, ICE has lost immigrants at Greyhound stations, largely in Phoenix, after deleting them court proceedings to determine whether they can stay in the country. From the stations they travel to their predetermined destination in the United States.
Greyhound spokeswoman Crystal Booker said the company is experiencing a "hitherto unsightly increase in individuals" at some bus terminals and that travelers need tickets to enter. She said the policy applies to anyone who lacks a ticket.
"Our priority is to secure our customers in a safe and efficient way," Booker said in a statement.
Immigrants released by ICE usually do not have advance notice and cannot make travel arrangements until they arrive at the station. Most of them do not have the money and have to wait for a relative or group to buy their ticket.
A large number of Central American families have traveled to the United States in recent months, many saying they are fleeing violence and are planning to seek asylum. Others say they escape extreme poverty.
In Arizona alone between December 21, 2018 and March 5, ICE said it had processed for release about 14,500 people who came as families.
Outside the Phoenix station, about 15 adults and five children were waiting in a shaded area near a parking lot Thursday. Some said they had been there for about seven hours.
The federal agency relies on NGOs, many of them faith-based groups, to help families with travel and meals.
Connie Phillips, president and chief executive of the Lutheran social Southwest Services, said she did not blame Greyhound for her policies, but rather immigration officials for not having a long-term, sustainable way of dealing with the release of immigrants.
"Just dropping people off in a place that is not meant to be welcome and helping them is not a solution, and we must work together to create a viable response to this increased need and stop this chaos," says Phillips. 19659004] Immigration authorities say they only release families at bus stations when volunteer groups run out of space. "" The ICE wants to reduce the burden on local community resources as we continue to see large numbers of families crossing the border, "spokeswoman said. Yasmeen Pitts O & # 39; Keefe.
Phill Ips said dozens of volunteers have created a network to respond to the Phoenix bus station when immigrants are turned off, taking food and water, allowing immigrants to use volunteer cell phones and help coordinate travel.
Phillips said that helping out groups can temporarily remember about 700 people in churches and congregations in the Phoenix area, but it does not. 19659004] The practice of releasing immigrants at the Greyhound stations is not limited to Phoenix, but this is where it happens most often.
ICE takes families directly from a Customs and Border Protection station to a shelter run by NGOs. The authorities have just turned off immigrants at the bus station only in some cases.
In McAllen, Texas, immigrants are dropped off at a Catholic charity home.