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Kavanagh, Lawrence still plan to add penalties to sanctuary cities

By: - November 6, 2019 4:16 pm

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills. Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Two Republicans lawmakers said they’ll continue with legislative plans to add penalties on sanctuary cities, even after an overwhelming majority of Tucson voters said ‘no’ to a ballot initiative to limit city cops from collaborating in immigration enforcement

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, told Arizona Mirror he is “very pleased” with the defeat of Proposition 205, titled “Tucson Families Free and Together.” The proposal would have restricted Tucson police officers from verifying the immigration status of some people, as required by Arizona law, and limited collaboration with federal authorities on immigration enforcement.

Kavanagh added he’ll move forward with his plan to allow people to sue local jurisdictions for civil damages if they are harmed by restrictions to Arizona’s immigration enforcement law, also known as Senate Bill 1070.

“I will be continuing with the bill because other cities could do this, or municipalities may have regulations in police departments that could accomplish the same thing,” he said. “So as a deterrent for that type of behavior and for economic justice for victims if something terrible happens, I will proceed with the bill.” 


Kavanagh’s seatmate, Rep. Jay Lawrence, R-Scottsdale, also said he’ll stick to co-sponsoring the proposal. 

“I think the Tucson vote is a great response,” Lawrence said. “The size of the response is just dramatic that the people of that area oppose being a sanctuary city, they know how bad it is.”

Tucson’s Prop. 205 failed by a landslide vote of 71 percent to 29 percent, unofficial results show. 

Zaira Livier, director of the People’s Defense Initiative, the group that created the sanctuary city measure and led the campaign for Prop. 205, told reporters Tuesday night she’ll work with the Tucson City Council to get their demands implemented. 

Livier added she’s working with groups in Phoenix and other Arizona cities, which she declined to disclose, to put forward similar proposals to limit local police from collaborating in immigration enforcement. 

The failed Tucson initiative did many things to limit how local police enforce state requirements under SB1070, the state’s controversial immigration enforcement law from 2010. SB1070 requires local law enforcement agencies to determine the immigration status of people they stop, detain or arrest. But officers have to first establish reasonable suspicion that the person is not a U.S. citizen and “is unlawfully present in the United States.” That determination has to be made if it is practicable.

Prop. 205 outlined several factors police officers cannot use to establish reasonable suspicion. Among them were the person’s name, mode of dress, race or ethnicity, ability to speak English, inability to provide a local residential address and proximity to undocumented immigrants.

The initiative also makes it policy of the city to find it impracticable to determine an immigration status of someone during a traffic stop. It would have prohibited Tucson police from inquiring or determining someone’s immigration status at schools, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, churches or places of worship, and state or local court buildings.

Kavanagh’s proposal would create a statutory definition of sanctuary jurisdictions. 

The term “sanctuary city” is nowhere in the language of the SB1070. There’s also no legal definition for the term.

The Kavanagh proposal would define sanctuary juristiction as a place that prohibits or restrics an official or government entity from “sending, receiving, maintaining or exhanging with any federal, state or local government entity information” about the immigration status of an undocumented immigrant; or fails to comply with an immigration detainer or notify federal authorities of the release from custody of an undocumented immigrant.

Kavanagh pointed to the first provision in SB1070 that he described as the sanctuary jurisdiction ban. It states, “No official or agency of this state or a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state may limit or restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.”

In a press release on Wednesday, Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Tucson, praised Tucson voters for “for upholding the rule of law.”

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Laura Gómez
Laura Gómez

Reporter Laura Gómez Rodriguez covers state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror. She was named Best Investigative Reporter by Phoenix Magazine in its 2018 newspaper category and has been honored by the Arizona Press Club for education, immigration, political, and public safety reporting and Spanish-language news and feature reporting. Laura worked for The Arizona Republic and La Voz Arizona for four years, covering city government, economic development, immigration, politics and trade. In 2017, Laura traveled the length of the U.S.-Mexico border for “The Wall,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning project produced by The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network. She is a native of Bogotá, Colombia and lived in Puerto Rico and Boston before moving to Phoenix in 2014. Catch her researching travel deals, feasting on mariscos or playing soccer.