In Yuma County, Sinema Discusses Border Crisis’s Impact on Small Border Towns with First Responders & Local Leaders

Aug 3, 2023

Since 2019, Sinema has secured over $1 billion for local communities affected by the border crisis through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program and the new CBP Shelter and Services Grant Program

YUMA – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema – Chair of the Border Management Subcommittee – held a roundtable with Yuma County first responders and local leaders to examine and develop solutions to the ongoing border crisis’ impact on Arizona border communities.
“The longer the federal government refuses to offer real solutions, the more our small border towns must unfairly shoulder the burden of the border crisis. We can deliver lasting solutions by bringing folks together, listening, and staying-laser focused on results – and that’s exactly what I’ll keep doing,” said Sinema. 
Yuma County is on the front lines of the ongoing border crisis, which significantly strains the local community’s resources. Between Fiscal Years 2020 and 2022, the number of migrant emergencies and rescues quadrupled, requiring the Yuma Fire Department to use the equivalent of four months of personnel hours to respond to these emergencies.
Additionally, all of south Yuma County, which includes San Luis, Somerton, and the Cocopah Reservation, is served by five ambulances. At times, as many as three of the five total ambulances have been used to provide transportation for migrants to the local hospital, leaving just two ambulances to service residents in the entire region.
Sinema spoke with roundtable participants about solutions to the border crisis’s demand for emergency services that strains small border communities. The discussion highlighted the need to better recruit and retain skilled workers so that first responders are able to focus on doing their jobs to keep communities safe, rather than being stretched thin to double as border security.
During her time in the Senate, Sinema has secured over $1 billion for migrant services through the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) and the new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Shelter and Services Grant Program (SSP). This funding helps non-profits and communities on the frontlines of the border and immigration crisis provide critical assistance to migrants – helping keeping families safe and ensuring migrants are treated fairly and humanely.
The Senator continues to hold the Administration accountable and advocate for Arizona border communities. In June, Sinema led other border state Senators in criticizing the Biden Administration for failing Southwest border communities by underfunding them through the SSP, which was specifically authorized by Congress to assist border communities that are directly affected by the border crisis. 
Participants in Sinema’s roundtable included Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls, San Luis Vice Mayor Luis Cabrera, San Luis Councilmember Tadeo A. De La Hoya, Somerton City Manager Louis Galaviz, Cocopah Chairwoman Sherry Cordova, Yuma Fire Chief Dustin Fields, Fire Battalion Chief Alvin Luedtke, San Luis Fire Chief Angel Ramirez, Somerton Cocopah Fire Chief Javier Hernandez, Yuma County Emergency Management Director Tony Badilla, Cocopah Emergency Manager Michael Fila, Cocopah Public Safety Director Paul De Anda, Somerton Chief of Police Araceli Juarez, San Luis Chief of Police Thomas Garrity, Yuma Chief of Police Thomas Garrity, Regional Center for Border Health CEO Amanda Aguirre, and IAFF Local 1234 President David Padilla, San Luis Council Member Matias Rosales, Yuma Fire Assistant Chief of Operations John Louser, Yuma County Sheriff’s Department Sheriff Leon Wilmot, Yuma County Supervisor Jonathan Lines, and Yuma County Supervisor Martin Porchas.