PHOENIX (AP) ̵
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed to the Associated Press on Friday that migrants have been dropped off outside facilities instead of being transported there.
The ICE has been dropping migrants to Greyhound Stations, mostly in Phoenix, for years after they were released, and court hearings decide if they can stay in the country. From the stations they travel to their intended destination in the United States.
The Greyhound spokeswoman, Crystal Booker, said the company is experiencing an "unprecedented increase in individuals" at certain bus stops, and that travelers need tickets to get in The guideline 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 advance notice and no one can 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, 2018 and March 5, ICE said it had about 14,500 people who came as family members for release.
Outside the station in Phoenix, about 15 adults and five children were waiting in a shaded 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 that she does not blame Greyhound for his policy, but rather for immigration officials because they have no lasting and sustainable opportunity to release migrants.
"Simply dissuading people in a place that is not meant to be able to greet and support them is not a solution and we must work together to provide a viable response to this increased need create and end this mess, "said Phillip's volunteer groups.
"ICE wants to mitigate the burden 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 Phoenix churches and households in the Phoenix area, but it does not. It's not enough.
The practice of dropping migrants to Greyhound Stations is not limited to Phoenix, but where it occurs most often.
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.