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

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. 

Laura Gómez
Reporter Laura Gómez Rodriguez covers state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror. She 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 was named Best Investigative Reporter by Phoenix Magazine in its 2018 newspaper category and has been honored by the Arizona Press Club for Spanish-language news and feature reporting. 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.


    • Why? Have we not learned from what is happening to CA? American citizens, homeless, veterans, aged, mentally ill, addicts…WHY don’t the taxpayers come first??? One good reason, please?????


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