The City of Tucson is housing migrant families at a recreation center as federal agencies and local shelters struggle to find space.
On Thursday afternoon, about 60 people, mostly families from Guatemala, were eating lunch, packing clothes, or asking questions about their immigration papers. Several children were crowded around a screen mounted on the side of the room as they played a video game.
City officials expect another 20 families to be housed at the recreation center in the next few days, according to Andrew Squire, a spokesman for the city.
The recreation center remains open to the public and no services are affected, Squire said.
Federal immigration agencies process the families and release them at local shelters, such as the Benedictine Monastery in midtown Tucson. Those shelters are struggling to keep pace.
Tucson officials received calls Sunday night from federal immigration officials and Catholic Community Services saying they were out of capacity, Squire said.
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“We cannot allow people to just be dropped in the street with no knowledge of where they are, what they’re doing, or anything else,” Squire said.
The families at the recreation center would have been dropped off at the Greyhound bus station, which could have created a public safety issue, Squire said.