Gila Bend Mayor Chris Riggs has declared a state of emergency due to the ongoing border crisis, saying the blame rides on the Biden administration for sending migrants to his town by bus.
Mayor Riggs expressed his concern that his town is not equipped to handle the number of people coming in, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
“Border Patrol let us know that they were going to be dropping migrants that had been detained for 72 hours in our town, which we really didn’t understand because we have nothing here,” Riggs said. “We have no charity organizations that can help, no non-governmental organizations that a lot of the larger cities and towns do have to assist these people.”
Riggs went on to say that people are being bussed over to his town without access to food or shelter. The town of Gila Bend has a population of just 2,000 and has not received any federal, state, or local funding to help provide food or housing for migrants, or for coronavirus testing on migrants.
Expressing frustration at the situation, Riggs continued by noting that, “quite frankly, it’s going to cost us tens of thousands of dollars a year to be able just to provide them with a bottle of water and a sandwich when they get dropped off.”
In addition, the mayor estimated that to test two busloads of people each week for a year would cost at least $600,000. Funds the town does not have.
“We’re a very economically depressed community. We can barely afford to take care of the people that we have here in our community now,” Riggs said. “Border Patrol advised us they’re basically going to drop people off here and [say] ‘They’re your problem.’
In an interview on Monday afternoon, Gila Bend Mayor Chris Riggs, an Independent, said the administration had left his city “completely in the dark” on the migrants who are being dropped off there.
Riggs claims that the Biden administration did not provide him with notice of what to expect, and thus they could not properly prepare.
“They’re not able to give us how many. They can’t give us what background[s] these people are. They can’t tell us what their health issues are. I’ve got a lot of seniors and elders here between Gila Bend and San Lucy Village that are very susceptible to COVID,” he said.
“We have not seen the [coronavirus] outbreak that other areas have seen in Arizona, yet we’re going to get punished for [the federal government’s] choices.”
“We are completely in the dark,” he continued. “Give us something. We’re still not getting anything. So I mean, we’re really frustrated with how we’re being treated through a crisis that they started.”
The Biden administration insists the migrant surge is a “challenge” as opposed to a “crisis,” at the border. The U.S. has seen a flood of crossings by migrants from Central American nations and various other countries in the last several weeks.
In addition to the financial burden on his town, Riggs said that violent crime has gone up recently, while approximately 20 illegal immigrants have arrived on foot nearly every day.