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County work back on track for new migrant shelter

Shelter work resumes
Posted: 7:07 PM, Jul 12, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-14 20:33:37-04
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TUCSON, Ariz — Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry has decided to continue work to convert a section of the County Juvenile Detention Center to house immigrant asylum seekers.

Huckelberry has reversed his order of Friday night to stop work to convert a section of the County Juvenile Detention Center to house immigrant asylum seekers.

Huckelberry has voted to continue work to convert a section of the County Juvenile Detention Center to house immigrant asylum seekers.

An email obtained by KGUN9 shows Huckelberry is back on track with the work about 8:50 a.m. Sunday.

He indicated County Supervisor Richard Elías has reversed his opposition to the conversion.

Huckelberry had proposed a plan to convert an empty section of the facility. The Catholic Diocese had requested the move because it will need space to house asylum seekers when a temporary shelter at the former Benedictine Monastery closes in August.

An e-mail obtained by KGUN9 shows Huckelberry issued the stop work order about 6:15 p.m. Friday.

The plan has faced opposition from critics who felt former lock-up space for juveniles would be inappropriate for migrant families.

Those critics include Pima County Supervisors Chairman Richard Elias. He and TUSD Board President Adelita Grijalva had proposed using two former TUSD schools instead.

Earlier Friday the operations manager for Catholic Community Services told KGUN9 the plan to convert the Juvenile Detention facility was the only one able to make space available in time to meet the early August deadline to vacate the shelter at the Monastery and the only one the charity would be able to afford.

Bishop Edward Weisenburger and County Administrator Huckelberry have both said they had confidence renovations to the detention facility would prevent a jail atmosphere that might seem unwelcoming to the asylum seekers.

In order to move forward the Catholic Community Services will provide an executed lease possibly late Monday and the board will meet August 6.

Huckelberry says "We hope to have the facility ready to move in before the August 6 deadline."

Note: We originally, incorrectly reported that Pima County was considering the schools referenced in this story as an option. After receiving the information below, we updated this story.

Email received from Mark B. Evans. Director, Pima County Communications Office:
Pima County is NOT considering two TUSD schools. The County and CCS are proceeding with the plan to lease the unused section of our juvenile facility as a respite and travel processing center for asylum seekers, pending Board of Supervisors’ approval Aug. 6.