The call into Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik’s cell phone came during a mayoral forum on Wednesday evening, with the message that the Benedictine Monastery was again over capacity with migrant families.

It wasn’t the first time the Tucson Democrat got the call since the monastery started taking in refugees back in January, and as Kozachik notes, it won’t be the last.

By the end of the night, 45 migrants would walk two blocks from the makeshift shelter to spend the night in Kozachik’s Ward 6 office, sleeping on cots.

“It is obviously not ideal,” Kozachik said on Thursday, noting that his office has showers as well as three separate restrooms. “Forty-five people maxed us out but what is the alternative?”

It wasn’t the first time Kozachik has opened his office to migrants — it is one of many shelters that has sprung up in neighborhoods as churches and nonprofits attempt to absorb the record number of migrants seeking asylum.

On Thursday, Kozachik predicted that dozens of migrants would call his ward office for another night, saying more migrants are expected to be dropped off by ICE and the Border Patrol in the coming days.

“There is no particular end in sight,” he said.

Whether these makeshift shelters are technically legal vary from site to site. For example, various churches that are housing migrants in Tucson have commercial kitchens and adequate restrooms.

Turning a Ward office into a shelter is more of a gray area.

City officials said that in the short-term, Kozachik’s decision to temporarily open his ward office to migrant families doesn’t violate city codes. On Thursday afternoon, the Tucson Fire Department signed off on a waiver for the site, saying the ward office meets safety and health standards to house up to 200 people.

Kozachik is prepared for criticism for his decision, but says the alternative is letting migrant families — often traveling with children — to fend for themselves on city streets this summer.

All six ward offices are accepting donations for migrant families.

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Local group to throw birthday party for Trump

The Pima County Republican Party is partnering with a local “Trump MAGA group” to celebrate President Trump’s birthday on June 14, which happens also to be Flag Day.

For $10, Trump supporters can join the “border-style” buffet line at the House of Bards, 4915 E. Speedway, on Friday, June 14. The three-hour event is scheduled to start at 5 p.m.

However, the group isn’t missing an opportunity to mix a little politics in their advertisements.

“Due to tariffs imposed on Mexico, we request you bring your own (tomatoes) and (avocados) to keep costs down,” one post on social media read.

“Let’s fill that restaurant to fire code max level. Bring your MAGA hats!” another post read.

Organizer Nadia Larsen hopes for at least 100 people next week, noting last year’s celebration drew about 80 people.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson.


Joe has been with the Star for six years. He covers politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona. He graduated from the UA and previously worked for the Arizona Daily Sun.