Statement intended to request halt to separation of families at the border
By Dana Trumbull
When the Pinal County Board of Supervisors had worked their way through to “Item J” on the June 27, 2018, Board meeting agenda, a dozen individuals stepped up to speak for a collective total of nearly 30 minutes in support of the item dubbed the, “Rios Resolution.” Named for District 1 Supervisor Pete Rios who directed the crafting of the statement, it comprised a strong call to Homeland Security, ICE and Border Control to “discontinue” the practice of separating children from their parents at the border.
The resolution failed 3/2, with Supervisors Goodman, Miller and Smith voting against, and Supervisors Rios and House voting for.
The resolution noted the direct relationship of Pinal County to border practices through the contractual agreements between ICE and the detention facilities located within the county and cited the policies and procedural changes that have pulled families apart, despite having no way to track where the children are taken.
The statement went on to quote the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states, “a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authority, subject to judicial review, determines that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child.”
Rios: “…trying to send a simple message that says, ‘Please don’t separate families at the border.’”
The Resolution concluded by directing the Clerk of the Board to forward the document, had it been approved, to the Director of the Office of Homeland Security and to the Congressional Delegation for the State of Arizona.
Unquestionably, the topic was the most evocative piece on the roster. Originally a part of the consent agenda, “Item J” was pulled for discussion by Supervisor Smith.
Members of the public who expressed support for the document were diverse, and their pleas reflected backgrounds in economics, sociology, healthcare and national security. Speakers included Retired Air Force Colonel Hollace Lyon, Saddlebrooke, who is currently running for the Arizona State House of Representatives from Legislative District 11; Sharon Girard, Eloy, a second generation Jewish immigrant currently running for the AZ Senate in LD8; and Roberto Reveles of Gold Canyon, a vocal civil rights leader who has been recognized for a lifetime of work advocating for immigrant and Hispanic communities. Several of the speakers decried the practice of separating families and supported the resolution on the grounds of “humanitarian rules of common decency.”
No member of the public spoke against the resolution.
The supervisors, however, were not so aligned. They expressed concerns that ranged from disdain for the United Nations as referenced in the resolution (House), to a desire to incorporate immigrant related economic issues specific to Pinal County within the document (Smith). Supervisor Miller contested that the statement was not broad enough, saying, “I have a moral issue with it in the fact that the ultimate removal of a child from a parent is abortion. That’s not considered here; that’s not discussed here.” He continued, “I don’t want children removed from their parents. I get it 100%. But sometimes those things are best left to people with a more professional arrangement, where somebody has to make a decision.”
After rebutting several of the specific comments by Board members, Supervisor Rios summarized, “In respect to some of the changes that others want to make because they want to include things that have to do with economic development… I support that, but it’s a separate issue for me. I would gladly vote on that type of a resolution, because I think it’s needed. But not to be mixed in with trying to send a simple message that says, ‘Please don’t separate families at the border.’”
Supervisor Smith has offered an alternative resolution that he dubbed as, “substantially different,” which could be put before the BOS in the near future.