Voters in Tuscon, Arizona overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to officially designate the city Arizona’s sole sanctuary city.
The politically fraught plan, backed by immigration advocates seeking to fight President Trump’s hardline immigration policies, would have restricted the ability of police to enforce immigration laws and cooperate with federal authorities such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Tuscon police department has already adopted some restrictions on when police can inquire about an individual’s immigration status.
The sanctuary city option was also opposed by the city’s Democratic mayor and the city council, who cited public safety concerns and risk to the city’s hefty state and federal grants. Opponents feared the proposal could run afoul of state law, and the Trump administration has threatened to pull millions of dollars in federal funding from cities who adopt sanctuary city policies.
“The city of Tucson, in all respects except being labeled as such, operates as a sanctuary city,” said Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, adding that the proposal would have unintended negative consequences, such as restricting police in matters unrelated to immigration.
Tuscon already has a reputation as a city that is friendly and protective of immigrants. The city was declared an “immigrant welcoming city” by its city council in 2012.
Zaira Livier, executive director for the People’s Defense Initiative, which spearheaded the effort to put the proposition on the ballot, argued it will “put into law that we will not, as we move forward, collaborate in the federal effort to terrorize, detain, separate and deport our community members.”
Meanwhile on Tuesday evening, Tuscon also elected its first Latina mayor, Councilwoman Regina Romero, only the second Hispanic to lead the city since Arizona became a state.
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