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Jul 15, 2014 12:52 AM by Rebecca Taylor

Sheriff Babeu prepares for demonstrators, as migrant kids arrive in Oracle

SADDLEBROOKE - Sheriff Paul Babeu met with residents in Saddlebrooke on Monday night. The topic that took center stage was the transfer of migrant children to Oracle, Arizona.

The town hall was both a political rally and public hearing on immigration.

About 200 people filled the Desert View Theater in the retirement community of Saddlebrooke.

The majority in attendance are against the arrival of migrant children in neighboring communities.

Resident Carla Ward asked, "How are we going to take care of them? Everybody is struggling, we just need to know how are we going to take care of these people."

Sheriff Babeu says he understands their concerns. His office only recently learned of plans to bring 40 to 60 refugee kids to Sycamore Canyon Boys Ranch in Oracle.

"We've been asking a lot of questions about the facility and the parent company," said Babeu.

He has reached out to Homeland Security expressing public safety and health concerns. But overall Babeu told the audience that he feels like he's being kept in the dark.

Babeu has confirmed the facility has increased staff by 30 people in anticipation of the kid's arrival. "We will not let up, that's our job to provide public safety to the families that are there," he said.

Area resident Harvey Ward said, "I definitely have concerns because they're not all just children, like news says. Obviously there's young adults not just here for a better life, they're involved in criminal activity and they're going to bring that into the community."

Sheriff Babeu is anticipating between 500 and 700 people on both sides of the issue to gather in Oracle, on Tuesday.

Pinal County Sheriff's deputies will begin staging at six Tuesday morning to help keep the peace.

It's not known what time the bus of children might be arriving. Oracle residents plan to stage a protest and block Department of Homeland Security vehicles from traveling to the academy.

Meantime, several local political groups are planning to wear white and line the road to Oracle, welcoming the migrant children. They'll be meeting at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday at the Oracle Post Office.

» There are multiple updates to this story. Please click here to get the latest information.

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