Tucson voted overwhelmingly against a measure that would have made Arizona’s second-largest city an official “sanctuary city” on Tuesday, amid concerns that it went too far in restricting police officers. The mayor and the city council said the initiative risked public safety and millions of dollars the city receives from the state and federal government.
The Democrat-controlled city designated Tucson an “immigrant welcoming city” in 2012, and the police department adopted rules limiting when officers can ask about the immigration status of people they encounter.
But after a law was passed by Arizona requiring local police to check the immigration status of people suspected to be in the country illegally, a measure that would have put new restrictions on police operating under the new state law was put forward and shut down on Tuesday.
The measure, known as Proposition 205, was pushed by activists and opposed by the mayor and city council, all Democrats, who said the initiative could have unintended consequences that could bring more harm and than good.
“The city of Tucson, in all respects except being labeled as such, operates as a sanctuary city,” Jonathan Rothschild, the mayor of Tucson, said before the vote. He added that the sanctuary initiative would have tied the hands of police even on matters unrelated to immigration.
The Trump administration has sought to restrict sanctuary cities’ access to federal grants. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in June that the Trump administration could consider cities’ willingness to enforce immigration policies when issuing funds for law enforcement.
“We have been failed by the city government here,” Zaira Livier, executive director of the People’s Defense Initiative, which organized the initiative, told supporters following the vote, reported KOLD-TV.
“We are here to test you and to tell you that the bare minimum is no longer good enough and we expect better,” Livier added.
The sanctuary city initiative aimed to further mitigate a 2010 Arizona immigration law known as SB1070. Aside from the continuing requirement for officers to check immigration papers when they suspect someone is in the country illegally, much of the initial SB1070 law has already been dismissed.
Tucson Mayor-elect Regina Romero, who is on the city council, opposed the initiative, saying it’s unnecessary given Tucson’s already welcoming attitude and policies toward immigrants.
NTD reporter Justin Morgan contributed to this report.