By Charlie Lapastora
YUMA, Ariz. — A rural border city in Arizona sees no end in sight to the surge of migrants and families crossing the border into their community.
Yuma mayor Douglas Nicholls issued a proclamation of emergency at the border in April, declaring a “humanitarian crisis” that is still affecting the community.
“This is a federal issue,” Nicholls said. “This is not a local issue. So, it needs a federal level response. We’ve had 2,500 people come through our shelter system. In a community of 100,000 people, that’s a large number that comes through a shelter system in a little over a month (April – May 2019). So, with that number, that volume, it’s a national issue. It’s not just Yuma’s issue.”
It’s put a strain on the Yuma Food Bank, which has turned into a migrant donation center.
“Our primary mission is to get food out into the community,” Shara Whitehead, Yuma Food Bank president and CEO, said. “This other part of it is problematic for us…it has definitely added a different level of stress to us. This time of the year, we’re going into summer and that is a time when there is a higher level of unemployment. So, we have natural, reoccurring issues that occur at this time of the year that put more stress on our food bank to have enough food to be able to provide for those needs. Then you couple that with the humanitarian effort with the migrants and it has just become a very big burden.”
They’ve received around 90,000 pounds worth of clothing, food, hygiene and baby product donations the past two months but with few volunteers to help sort through it all.