PHOENIX (AP) – Greyhound Lines Inc. no longer allows US authorities to release immigrant families into bus stations, forcing those who have been released from custody to wait outside until they have a ticket.
OSS Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday that it had been asked to evacuate immigrants outside the facility rather than busing them in.
[ RELATED: Thousands of immigrants dropped off at the Phoenix bus station]
For years, ICE has dropped immigrants at Greyhound stations, largely in Phoenix, after deleting them pending court to decide if 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 Dallas-based 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
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 coping with the release of immigrants.
"Just dropping people into a place that is not meant to welcome and help them is not a solution, and we must work together to create a viable response to this increased need and stop this chaos," Phillips said. 19659002] Immigration authorities say they only release families at bus stations when volunteer groups run out of space. "" ICE wants to reduce the burden on community resources as we continue to see large numbers of families crossing the border, "spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts O & amp; # 39; Keefe.
Phill Ips said dozens of volunteers have created a network to respond to the Phoenix bus station when immigrants are turned off, bringing food and water, allowing immigrants to use volunteer cell phones and helping with
Phillips said that the groups that help out can temporarily remember about 700 people in churches and congregations in the Phoenix area, but it does not. The hassle 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 non-governmental organizations. 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.
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