The City of Tucson and its community organizations and leaders have been one of the bright spots in the recent surge of child refugees from Central America. Tucson is definitely not the FAUX News stage prop of Murietta, California. Not so our unruly neighbors to the North in Pinal County.
I was only able to half listen to this KVOA-4 report last Friday because of a noisy household, so I missed this. Possible new child migrant shelter coming to Oracle:
Nearly 280 migrant children are already staying at a Tucson shelter; now another location could be coming to Oracle, several miles into the Catalina Mountains, behind a campground along Mt. Lemmon Highway.
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Beyond the campsite is a gate, concealing the Sycamore Canyon Academy. The facility is run by ‘Rite of Passage,’ a Nevada based group that works with at-risk youth.
The Pinal County Sheriff’s Department recently got word 40 to 50 migrant children could soon be staying here.
“There are major concerns from a public safety perspective about that,” said Sheriff Paul Babeu.
Some of the folks who live nearby, like Robert Skiba, aren’t too happy about it either . . . Skiba plans on organizing an effort to protest the plan.
Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times follows up on this story today. Paul Babeu Supporter Organizing Murrietta-Style Protest in Oracle, Says Babeu Tipped Him Off:
A longtime supporter of Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu says the sheriff tipped him off that 40 to 50 migrant kids would soon be placed in his community.
Oracle resident Robert Skiba believes that the minors will be bused by federal authorities to the Sycamore Canyon Academy on Tuesday.
He told me in an interview this morning that he first heard of the transfer from Babeu at an NRA women’s leadership forum held in Tucson, where Babeu was the featured speaker.
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“At the end of the speech, he looked at me and he said, `Mr. Skiba, the government’s going to put 40 Central American kids in your community in the very, very near future.’
“I extemporaneously popped off, I said, `And we’ll take care of them.’ It made people chuckle because it had a double meaning.”
Skiba began making calls as soon as he got home, calling elected officials, letting others know, and snooping out more details of the transfer, he claims.
He says he and about 50 to 200 other protesters will be “on the Mount Lemon Road where it turns off to Peppersauce Canyon” beginning Tuesday morning at 7 a.m.
“We’re going to engage in peaceful assembly,” Skiba told me. “And if these buses with these people from Central America come in, we’re going to stop it. we’re going to turn them around and send them back, just like they did in Murrietta, California.”
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I asked Skiba if he was willing to block buses if it meant getting arrested.
“Whatever it takes,” he stated.
However, it’s not clear that there will be any buses.
Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which handles the placement of unaccompanied immigrant children as their immigration cases go through the courts, said he could not comment on any pending demonstrations.
Nor would he confirm if children are to be placed at the facility just outside Oracle where the protest is to take place.
“We have 100 regular/permanent Unaccompanied Alien Children program shelters (which we do not identify for the safety and security of minors and staff at the facilities),” Wolfe explained via e-mail, “and three temporary Unaccompanied Alien Children program shelters (at the Lackland, Ventura and Fort Sill military bases in Texas, California and Oklahoma).”
Spokespersons for CPB and for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined any comment.
My attempts to reach someone at Sycamore Canyon Academy so far have been unsuccessful. A message left at its parent organization Rite of Passage have not been returned as of yet.
Though the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to my call for comment, it recently posted the following statement to its Facebook page:
Unaccompanied Illegal Minors Being Transferred to Boys Ranch in OracleDuring the past few days, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has been informed by “whistle blowers” within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security they plan to transfer between 40 and 60 unaccompanied illegal minors to the “Sycamore Canyon Boys Ranch” in Oracle.
Our office has communicated with Homeland Security to express our public safety and public health concerns. We have already reached out to the director of the Sycamore Canyon Boys Ranch who has confirmed Homeland Security has been in negotiations with the facility to temporarily house the minors. The facility has increased their staff by approximately 30 employees in preparation for their anticipated arrival sometime tomorrow.
Sheriff Paul Babeu stated, “We already have our hands full fighting the Drug Cartels and Human Smugglers. We don’t need unaccompanied juveniles from Central America being flown into Arizona – compliments of President Obama. Local residents have every right to be upset and to protest. Our federal government has failed to enforce any immigration laws. These children should be returned to their home country – not to Oracle, Arizona paid for by American taxpayers.”
Sheriff Babeu continued “We understand there will be protesters who support and oppose ICE bringing the foreign juveniles to Oracle. The Sheriff’s Office will work to ensure the peace is maintained at these lawful assemblies.”
Naturally, this all smells as if Babeu, a publicity addict well-known for exploiting the immigration issue for his own ends, is trying to stir up a Murrietta in his own backyard. [I’m sure a media alert has been sent to FAUX News.]
Even if no buses show, Babeu’s guaranteed press coverage, and Skiba and his associates can claim victory.
The situation is highly ironic, given Babeu’s own shenanigans of a couple of years ago with a Mexican boyfriend who apparently had overstayed his visa, a status Babeu and his supporters would regard as “illegal.” Babeu allegedly threatened to have his ex-lover deported.
Perhaps Babeu would like to counsel the fresh arrivals from Central America himself?
[h/t Phoenix New Times for Studboi1, underwear model Paul Babeu.]
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Skiba’s call to action has been echoed online by such local nativist groups as Remember 1986, among others. It comes the same week that the North Carolina-based Americans for Legal Immigration PAC is organizing protests at state capitols nationwide on July 18 and 19.
A counter protest to show support for the minors is also in the works.
Regarding Babeu’s statement about “public safety,” it looks like he is the one imperiling it, and perhaps the lives of minors, with his irresponsible comments.
Skiba told me he’s long been a fan and supporter of Babeu. He’s contributed money to his campaigns, and worked to get him elected.
Will he and the other protesters be armed? Skiba says his group will not be.
“No, sir,” he emphasized. “If anyone’s carrying a weapon, [they will be asked to] put it in their car
We don’t want any weapons out there of any kind.”
But he was aware that counter-demonstrators would be there as well, and acknowledged that the situation could turn testy.
“This is going to be a circus out there tomorrow,” he said. “There’s no two ways about it.”
A circus, the kind Babeu likes.
Hating on children in desperate circumstances because they are brown. I’ll bet they dare to call themselves good Christians too. WWJD? “Jesus said, Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14.
UPDATE: There will be a strategy meeting tonight at 6:30 pm at the Global Justice Center located at 225 E. 26th Street South Tucson, AZ, 85713 for the kiddos coming through Oracle tomorrow. Please join and spread the word! #WeAreNotMurrieta
h/t Arizona Republic Photo