For nearly two hours, members of the progressive faith-based community pleaded with the Pima County Board of Supervisors to reject an agreement with Catholic Community Services to use sections of the Juvenile Justice detention facility to house migrant families. Their pleas were ignored and the proposal passed on a 3-2 vote.
Supervisors Bronson, Elias and Valadez voted in favor of the highly questionable and largely unpopular plan.
Opponents of the plan included members of Black Lives Matter (BLM), the Pima County Republican Party, and various nonprofit organizations. Elias and Valadez were clearly shaken by the criticism they received during the Call to the Audience portion of the meeting.
Later, while explaining his vote, Elias brushed off concerns and told critics that a new site could be considered at a later date despite the fact that the County has already spent money on renovations for migrant housing at the facility.
In a statement issued after the vote, Supervisor Ally Miller questioned why the faith-based groups were “denied a seat at the table.” Miller also questioned the cost of the plan, as well as the very secretive process employed by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.
“Once again, we saw the harm that is done through the “tyranny of the majority,” stated Miller. “In a 3-2 vote, the Board demonstrated that the public’s concerns will be ignored if it suits the needs of a few.”
Miller also questioned why, despite such strong community opposition, supervisors were given only the one option in which to house the migrants. “One choice is not enough and I questioned why CCSSA was the only organization under consideration to operate this facility. It appears many faith-based organizations have been stepping up to assist with this situation. There can be no justification for keeping the Supervisors in the dark. It became abundantly clear today that the so called emergency was to ensure a predetermined solution to the problem.”
Miller’s questions about the limited choice were echoed by speakers during the heated Call to the Audience.
“Although the issue was presented as an emergency today, we learned that County Administrator Huckelberry has been aware of this matter since at least April. I was not informed of this situation until I received the first memorandum on July 8th,” said Miller. “One choice is not enough and I questioned why CCSSA was the only organization under consideration to operate this facility. It appears many faith-based organizations have been stepping up to assist with this situation. There can be no justification for keeping the Supervisors in the dark. It became abundantly clear today that the so called emergency was to ensure a predetermined solution to the problem.”said Miller.
“While we have further weakened the public’s trust in the County, we might have also weakened our position to secure future Stonegarden funding,” continued Miller. “Sheriff Napier was very clear when he advised the Board in May that there was no guarantee that we would receive Stonegarden funds in the future if we use the funds for purposes other than those specifically outlined in the grant.”
“In fact, if the County engages in more reckless political posturing, we could be on the hook to repay over $6 million for equipment purchased in prior years with Stonegarden funding,” warned Miller.
Related article: Pima County Board To Meet July 22 To Vote On Migrant Shelter Lease
DID YOU KNOW: In 2016, “figures available on the USASpending.gov website show the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) garnering more than $91 million for refugee resettlement programs, more than $202 million going to Catholic Charities, which also serves refugees, and the Boston-based ICMC (International Catholic Migration Commission) getting more than $17 million in government funds stipulated entirely for U.S. refugee resettlement, according to Lifesitenews.com
“In addition, I want to reiterate that my concerns and questions about the costs and other potential liabilities have not been adequately addressed by Mr. Huckelberry,” said Miller, who had addressed her concerns for the welfare of the juveniles currently housed at the facility in correspondence with Huckelberry. Miller also questioned Huckelberry about the taxpayers’ liabilities should the juvenile wards be harmed by the arrangement.
“It has been my stated my position that this crisis is the responsibility of the federal government and our representatives in the Senate and House have failed to do their job,” concluded Miller. “They need to step up and secure emergency funding for these efforts that are a direct result of their failure to fix this problem. We must demand more from them, and also demand better for our constituents.”
Miller has contacted both Senators McSally and Sinema. McSally, and during the Board’s meeting called on her fellow supervisors to do the same.