PHOENIX (AP) – Greyhound Lines Inc. no longer allows US authorities to drop migrants' families within bus stops, and forces those released from custody outside until they have a ticket.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Friday confirmed to The Associated Press that they had been asked to drop migrants outside facilities instead of getting them into a taxi.
[ RELATED: Dozens of Migrants Descend at the Phoenix Bus Station
The ICE has been dropping migrants to Greyhound Stations, primarily in Phoenix, for years after appealing them decide if they are allowed to stay in the country. From the stations they travel to their intended destination in the United States.
Greyhound spokeswoman Crystal Booker said that the Dallas-based company is experiencing "unprecedented growth in individuals" at certain bus stops and travelers need tickets to get in. She said the policy applies to anyone who lacks a ticket.
"Our priority is to bring customers safely and efficiently to their destination," said Booker in a statement.
Immigrants released by ICE usually have no prior notice and can not make travel arrangements before arriving at the station. Most of them have no money and have to wait for a relative or interest group to buy their ticket.
A large number of Central American families have traveled to the US in recent months, many of whom say they are fleeing violence and planning to seek asylum. Others say they are fleeing extreme poverty.
In Arizona alone between December 21
Outside the station in Phoenix, about 15 adults and five children were waiting in a shady area near a parking lot on Thursday. Some said they had been there for about seven hours.
The federal agency relies on voluntary organizations, many of them on a faith basis, to help families travel and eat.
Connie Phillips, President and CEO of Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, said she blamed Greyhound not for his policies, but rather for immigration officials because they had no sustainable and sustainable way to release migrants.
"Simply dissuading people in a place that is not destined to be able to greet and support them is not a solution, and we need to work together to create a viable response to this increased need and stop this mess, "Phillips said.
The immigration authorities claim that families are only released at bus stops Volunteer groups run out of space.
"ICE wants to mitigate the strain on the local population as large numbers of families still cross the border," said spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts O'Keefe.
Phillips said dozens of volunteers had created a network to respond to the Phoenix bus station when immigrants were dropped off. They bring food and water, allow migrants to use mobile phones from volunteers, and help coordinate travel.
Phillips said the helping out groups are able to temporarily house around 700 people in churches and households around Phoenix in the Phoenix area. It's not enough.
The practice of dropping migrants to Greyhound Stations is not limited to Phoenix, but where it occurs most frequently.
In San Diego, the ICE brings families directly from a customs and border protection station to the protection of non-governmental organizations. Authorities have only dropped off migrants at the bus station in some cases.
In McAllen, Texas, migrants are dropped off in a Catholic charity home.
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.