By Taylor Tasler
A Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport official said hundreds of migrants come to the airport each day, many without finalized travel plans, as the crisis at the southern border continues.
Eric Everts, public information officer for the airport, in a statement said approximately 300 to 400 refugees and migrants have arrived by bus each day for the past few months.
“Many don’t have a travel itinerary, some do not have money or basic necessities like food or diapers,” he said.
This is one of the various challenges U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona discussed during a roundtable event on immigration Wednesday.
Sinema told reporters that airport staff is having to provide assistance to migrants that are showing up unprepared to travel.
“Airport staffers are not trained or skilled in the area of providing short-term humanitarian or physical support to migrants,” she said.
Everts said the airport’s employees are assisting migrants with purchasing flights or calling someone to purchase a flight for them.
“Sky Harbor’s customer service and operations teams have been providing use of phones, translating services, and have been coordinating with the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) when refugees and migrants need additional assistance,” he said.
In the event migrants can’t get booked on a flight that day, airport employees will contact the International Rescue Committee.
If the nonprofit is able, it will send a bus to pick up the migrants who need to stay overnight. However, should capacity be full, the migrants have to wait overnight in the airport until their flight leaves.
“The airport is not set up to offer these services,” Everts said.
Everts said the airport has appreciated efforts to establish a system that ensures everyone who arrives has a flight reservation and is prepared to travel.