Hey, Mr. Obama. Leave those kids alone.
That was the message the Tucson City Council sent to the federal government Tuesday.
The council unanimously adopted a memorial asking the president and Congress to do whatever it can to not separate kids and their families, and to send federal dollars our way to defray the costs piling up for communities trying to handle a flood of unaccompanied kids crossing into the country illegally.
The memorial’s language was softened by motion from Councilwoman Shirley Scott. The original language asked the president to halt the deportation of noncriminal immigrants.
But while the words may have changed, the message the city wants to send to Washington, D.C., remained the same.
Councilwoman Regina Romero said she spearheaded the memorial to urge President Obama to fix an immigration system that she says is filled with antiquated laws that rip families apart.
“Right now, more than ever, the city of Tucson has to take a position and implore our congressional delegation and implore the president to take a stand,” Romero said. “And especially the president — do as much as he possibly can to help families and children from being separated.”
She said immigrants are not a drain on the system and should be given papers so they can boost the economy.
“There’s been amazing research that shows a comprehensive approach to immigration reform would add to our economy,” Romero said. “Immigrants in this country living in the shadows does not help our economy.”
Tensions ran high during the call to the audience as immigration-rights supporters and people who believe illegal immigration has run amok stated their cases.
Audience members jeered and cheered speakers, with views running the gamut from Mexico was surreptitiously trying to take over America to illegal immigrants should have a place in the country.
An amendment to the memorial was added by Councilman Steve Kozachik; it urged Congress to engage Central American countries with economic development.
The council bid adieu to outgoing City Manager Richard Miranda. Tuesday’s meeting was Miranda’s last before he retires on July 31.
Council members praised Miranda for his steady leadership as he guided the city through budget crises and department shake-ups.
“The qualities that you possess in abundance — integrity, reliability, stability — were exactly what this city needed as we rebuilt trust with our constituents,” Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said.
Miranda fought emotion as he thanked his family for putting up with his missing dinners and family events as he served the people of Tucson for the past 40 years. Miranda said he was proud to have worked for the current City Council.
“We had cards dealt to us that were very tough in terms of economics,” Miranda said. “We’ve had to make some tough decisions. But those decisions were based not on the individual but on what was best for the community as a whole.”