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Arizona narrowly avoids mass migrant street releases with federal funding

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Some Arizona leaders are breathing a sigh of relief as the federal government passed funding that will presumably go toward transporting migrants out of border communities or caring for them while there.

There was widespread concern about daily mass migrant street releases starting in April, as federal funding for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Shelter and Services Program was set to expire on April 1, The Center Square previously reported.

Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly said on Saturday that $650 million in the recent spending bill signed by President Joe Biden will go toward the program.

“As Washington partisans fail to secure the border, Arizona border communities pay the price for their inaction – shouldering the burden of a crisis they did not create. I’m proud to secure critical resources to support our border communities, reducing the number of migrant street releases and keeping Arizona families safe,” Sinema said in a statement.

The notion that is would prevent street releases was confirmed by Pima County administrator Jan Lesher on Tuesday.

“Based on this federal action, discussions with staff at the Department of Homeland Security, CBP and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), it is our expectation that in the coming weeks we will receive formal notice of additional federal funds that will be directed to Pima County in support of our operation,” Lesher wrote in a memorandum to the county board of supervisors.

The senators, as well as Gov. Katie Hobbs, originally backed $752 million in funding for the program as details were still being worked out. Despite the lower than requested figure, Hobbs praised the incoming funding.

“I am relieved Pima County will receive federal funding to maintain a safe, secure, and humane border. Since the beginning, I’ve committed to prioritizing practical solutions over petty politics in addressing the border, and now, that commitment is delivering results,” she tweeted on Wednesday morning.

The border continues to be a major issue for Arizona communities. The Tucson Sector continues to face a hefty amount of migrant and cartel activity daily, leading ranchers and law enforcement at the border to ask for additional assistance.

The state’s border has surpassed Texas in recent months for migrant encounters, according to CBP data.