Over 50 days later, the approximately 1,500 individuals (out of roughly 700 families) U.S. Border Patrol migrant drop-offs that have occurred in Blythe — and subsequently transferred to the Coachella Valley — since March 28 continue with an indefinite timeline.
In an update provided to the Palo Verde Valley chapter of the California Women for Agriculture (CWA) and Blythe City Council, Interim City Manager Mallory Crecelius provided insight on some of the latest variables local, county, and state policymakers will have to keep in mind moving forward.
“Kind of a new development that we ran into this week, or late last week, is — we’re part of the (U.S. Border Patrol) Yuma Sector. But since we’re in Riverside County, the county is handling it and transporting the asylum seekers to the Coachella Valley. They stay at a church there and are then transported to their destinations by airplane or Greyhound bus,” noted Crecelius on May 14. “When it started — I believe we’re in day (47) — the El Centro(, Calif.) station, which I believe Indio is a part of, they weren’t releasing people into communities. Last week, (U.S. Border Patrol) started releasing into Indio. So now both (Blythe and Indio) communities are competing for the same shelters.”
Currently, the migrant asylum seekers are brought to a location in Blythe by U.S. Border Patrol, and then transferred to a local church before being sent to the Coachella Valley.
There, the asylum seekers await responses from stateside support family members or non-profit sponsors for transportation — be it commercial bus, plane or otherwise — to their stateside destination, with a court ordered appearance date in hand.
“As of now, (the migrant asylum seekers) are remaining in Blythe for one to three days until they are able to be transported to their final destination. They come over with a support family that’s already in the United States — and they’re the ones that are sending the money for the travel,” noted Crecelius. “In most cases, if they’re not able to (fund the travel expense), the Catholic charities are helping with that as well.”
Riverside County and the City of Blythe are staying in scheduled conference-call communication three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), partnering as the partisan federal public policy stalemate continues.
“They’re all families, usually one adult and a child. That’s the typical make-up of the people arriving here but, as far as we’re aware, none of them have made Blythe their permanent residence. They’re dropped here, and they’re assisted on,” stated Crecelius. “We luckily haven’t had to do a whole lot other than stay in communication with the county. At this point, they’re handling everything 100 percent but we don’t know how long they can do that and we don’t have any signs of when this may end. Some frustrations today were that they don’t have anybody at the federal level at the table. There’s no one here who can kind of assist us with these questions and so, both the county and I are going to reach out to (California 36th District) Congressman (Dr. Raul) Ruiz for some help in getting that federal contact to give us some more answers, information, and help us address this ongoing crisis and humanitarian effort. The county is treating this as a humanitarian effort.”
In April, the office of Riverside County 4th District Supervisor V. Manuel Perez announced California Governor Gavin Newsom’s approval of $521,000 in state funds to Catholic charities for the migrant asylum seekers’ temporary shelter and support resources.
“These funds support the work they are doing and certainly help going forward, should this become a long-term operation. The Riverside County Economic Development Agency has reached out to our other nonprofit partners to help them access potential funding from the state,” read a statement by Perez. “Riverside County saw a responsibility and immediately stepped up to respond as a safety net and provide compassionate assistance to people in desperate situations. Our mission-driven efforts reflect who we are as a county and as a country that is a beacon of freedom and refuge.”