Arizona Mayor Declares Emergency as Border Patrol Increases Migrant Releases

In this July 18, 2018, file photo, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent gathers information on four Guatemalan nationals, including two men and a pair of 12 and 13-year-old boys in Yuma, Ariz.

In this July 18, 2018, file photo, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent gathers information on four Guatemalan nationals, including two men and a pair of 12 and 13-year-old boys in Yuma, Ariz. AP Photo


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STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Oakland A’s waterfront ballpark plan draws port industry resistance … Washington passes clean energy and public-option health proposals … Litter clean-up in Philadelphia.

The mayor of Yuma, Arizona declared a city emergency this week, asking for federal assistance in dealing with the building humanitarian crisis unfolding as U.S. Border Patrol releases migrants seeking asylum into the city. “It’s above our capacity as a community to sustain,” Mayor Doug Nicholls said in announcing the emergency proclamation on Tuesday. He said he was hoping the proclamation would draw a “FEMA-type response.” “This isn't a natural disaster, but it is a disaster,” he said. “[Federal] resources could come in and take care of the situation.” Yuma’s only migrant shelter, which opened three weeks ago, according to the New York Times, is housing more than 200 migrants, solidly above its capacity, and nonprofit groups in the town dedicated to helping the influx of migrants are stretched thin. Nicholls said he doesn't see the migrants as a security threat to the community and that he doesn’t anticipate an uptick of crime. He said he fears for the health and safety of the immigrants. CNN reported that Border Patrol has released more than 11,000 migrants at shelters and bus stations along the border in the last month, when the agency began releasing non-criminal families from custody with court appointments to review their requests for asylum. Nicholls, a Republican, said he hoped border community leaders wrestling with similarly ballooning migrant populations would follow his lead in declaring emergencies, increasing the pressure that might force officials in Washington to respond. [Arizona Republic, CNN, New York Times]

PORT BUSINESS AND BASEBALL | Maritime industries centered around the Port of Oakland in California are voicing major concern with the proposed waterfront ballpark development plan being championed by the Oakland A’s and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. The ambitious Howard Terminal project would see the stadium and an accompanying housing development perched alongside the Port’s Inner Harbor Turning basin — the strip of water separating Oakland from Alameda in which a steady stream of cargo ships, including container vessels the size of three football fields, navigate to load and unload beside rail lines that carry freight and passenger trains night and day. The Port of Oakland is the third-largest port on the West Coast, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Supporters of the stadium project, which may include a gondola strung between the park and downtown Oakland, estimate it will create 5,000 new jobs. The Oakland Board of Port Commissioners is weighing the upsides and downsides of the proposal, including the safety of fans, and the future health of the maritime industry. The commission plans to announce a decision on the project by the end of the month. [San Francisco Chronicle]

CLEAN POWER AND PUBLIC-OPTION HEALTH CARE | Lawmakers in Olympia, Washington, acting on priorities set by Gov. Jay Inslee, passed two major proposals this week: a measure to move the state to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045, and a "public option" health insurance plan that will be available to all state residents. Inslee, a Democrat, is running for president and has made addressing climate change the major plank of his campaign. [Chinook Observer]  

VICTIMS’ RIGHTS | Louisiana’s district attorneys are opposing a bill that would ban them from seeking to jail victims of rape and abuse as a way to compel them to testify in criminal cases against their attackers. []

FIREFIGHTER PAY RAISE | Houston City Council this week postponed a vote on whether to layoff 220 firefighters, as city leaders debate how to implement pay raises for the fire department passed by voters last November. The administration of Mayor Sylvester Turner says Proposition B would cost $307 million over the next four years. The mayor and the firefighters union continue to negotiate. [Houston Public Media]

STREET TRASH | Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said he gets “seriously burned up” seeing large amounts of litter piling up in some of his city’s neighborhoods. He has set aside $11.7 million in the city budget to be spent over the next five years on a pilot program of targeted street sweeping and air blowing that would correspond with neighborhood trash collection. [NBC 10]

John Tomasic is a journalist who lives in Seattle.

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