Jul 11, 2014 9:00 PM by Lauren Reimer

Possible new child migrant shelter coming to Oracle

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.

"It's a very beautiful place to be," said area resident Robert Skiba. "On the weekends, it gets pretty crowded."

And it might soon be getting even busier.

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 Skiba, aren't too happy about it either. He said, "My question is, can this area here handle 40 additional people? What about the garbage? What about the sewage? What about the emergency medical facility? It raises so many questions and we have not been given the opportunity to ask the questions and get answers."

Skiba plans on organizing an effort to protest the plan. He thinks it may mean the end of his days spent camping in the park too.

"I think many people will stay away if they know that there are 40 illegal youngsters down there," said Skiba.

The new arrivals would nearly double the number of individuals currently staying at the facility. The Pinal Co. Sheriff's Dept. says the Academy has brought on 30 additional staff members to take care of these children.


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