TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - 15 elected officials representing Tucson, Pima County, the Pascua Yaqui Nation and the state gathered in the lobby of the court administration building to voice their frustration with the immigration policy, which allows children to be separated from their parents at the border.
The White House and U.S. Justice Department zero tolerance policy arrests and deports anyone caught crossing the border illegally. If they have children, the children are taken away and housed in detention facilities or with foster families.
Under the policy, some people who have requested asylum have also been separated for their children for weeks or months.
Pima County will vote on a resolution next week denouncing the policy calling it "inhumane and unjust."
The city of Tucson is also writing a resolution, which will go before the council next week. Since four of the seven council members attended the press conference, it's likely to pass the council.
Chairman Robert Valencia of the Pascua Yaqui Nation said the policy is having a detrimental impact on people who have been crossing the border for generations and a tribal nation which does not recognize the U.S./Mexican border.
"We have relatives, I have relatives who live in the Pueblos in Sonora, or what we now call Sonora," he said. "We see that as our inherent right of mobility."
But now policies, and the fear of families being broken up, are causing that flow to be disrupted.
"It's not an immigration right," he said. "We don't see it as an immigration issue."
Others had harsh descriptions of the policy.
Tucson City Councilman from Ward 5 said "these actions are despicable."
Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild called it "cruel and morally reprehensible."
Peter Yucuypicio, Vice Chair of the Pascua Yaqui Nation said "en una trajeta, it's a tragedy."
District 5 Supervisor Richard Elias also said it's "really tragic."
Kristal Foster, a member of the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board, took time out from a 3-day seminar to attend, to register her desire to see the policy overturned.
"Our message is our schools are safe," she said. "All students are welcome regardless of the immigration status."
But she's also concerned when she hears talk of children being deported out of classrooms.
Right now, it's a violation for children to be asked about their status, but the district will hold discussions if the talk becomes louder.
"We should be leaders and show other districts the moral, humane way to move forward," she said. "That supports families and not separates them."