A to Z

Tucson to decide on ‘sanctuary city’ ballot measure in November

By: - July 17, 2019 4:14 pm

A sign held by a demonstrator at the February 2017 March for Humanity in Philadelphia to show support for immigration and refugees. Photo by 7beachbum | Flickr/CC BY 2.0

A Tucson effort to create an ordinance restricting local law enforcement from working with federal authorities to enforce immigration laws will go before voters in November.

The initiative, titled “Tucson Families Free and Together,” outlines how Tucson police officers conduct stops and determine someone’s immigration status. It also prohibits Tucson from using funds to train federal agents to enforce local rules, and bans partnerships with federal agencies without a formal agreement between the parties. Further, any interagency agreements can’t be for the purpose of enforcing civil provisions of immigration law. 

These limitations on local cooperation with federal immigration authorities are broadly known as sanctuary city policies, although there’s no legal definition for the term.

Zaira Livier, director of People’s Defense Initiative, which is leading the campaign for the initiative, said organizers collected about 18,000 signatures, almost double the 9,200 required. According to the Associated Press, the Pima County Recorder’s certified more than 12,400 signatures on Monday. 

The Pima County GOP is readying a legal challenge on the signatures, the AP reported. 

Livier said the “public collective” in Tucson is more aware than before about how immigration policy impacts local communities, and that’s why they’re supportive of the initiative. 

“Tucson is really ready,” Livier said. “Half of the time, they couldn’t wait for you to finish the sentence after mentioning the word ‘sanctuary.’ Finally, we are having an honest conversation, and honest coverage about what immigration policy really is.” 

Livier said the goal of the initiative is to steer local law enforcement to focus on public safety, and not on collaborating in the detention and deportation of Tucson residents. 

A state law — part of the controversial SB1070, which was approved in 2010 — requires local agencies to contact immigration authorities if they have reasonable suspicion the person is in the country in violation of immigration law. 

Livier said the “Tucson Families Free and Together” initiative works within the framework of that state law, and is not in violation of it. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.