In Arizona, a red state known for its strict immigration policies, Tucson has earned a reputation as a spot of blue.
But at the ballot box on Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly rejected an initiative to turn Tucson into a sanctuary city for migrants.
The initiative, Tucson Families Free and Together, or Proposition 205, would have restricted police officers’ ability to detain people based on immigration status and prohibited certain collaborations between local and federal authorities, among other things.
“By protecting all people’s constitutional and civil rights through reducing arrests, creating strong directives against profiling and strong separations between immigration enforcement and local government functions, we can ensure a community where everyone can thrive without fear of deportation or detention,” the People’s Defense Initiative, the advocacy group behind the proposition, said on its website.
Tucson has a long history of helping migrants. The city was integral to the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s, when migrants from El Salvador and Guatemala — where the Reagan administration supported military governments — and other Central American countries made their way to the United States with help from churches, synagogues, college campuses and activist groups, despite having been denied asylum.
In 2012, the City Council voted in favor of becoming an “Immigrant Welcoming City.” And the Tucson Police Department revised its policies in 2015 to essentially shift officers’ focus away from immigration status in their interactions with civilians.
But according to unofficial election results released on Tuesday, about 71 percent of voters said no to Proposition 205.
Critics of the initiative had argued that it could lead to a loss of state or federal funding, block local authorities’ access to federal databases, prevent the police from working with federal law enforcement on criminal investigations, or prompt legal challenges that would end up limiting the agency of individual officers.
Many of those critics, however, agreed with some of the proposition’s central tenets.
The editorial board of The Arizona Daily Star said it “supports the goal and mission of Prop. 205, but we cannot support this specific initiative.” Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, a Democrat, said in a statement that “Tucson stands united in opposition to the cruel and illegal immigration policies of the current administration in Washington,” but added that the initiative “would do irreparable harm to this community in ways that have nothing to do with immigration.”
Arizona, which shares a 370-mile border with Mexico, has often found itself at the center of national battles over immigration policy. State lawmakers have generally favored strict immigration laws, which more liberal cities, officials and activists have tried to combat with demonstrations, statements or municipal legislation.
In Tucson, proponents of Proposition 205 were taking aim at S.B. 1070, a contentious bill that was signed into law in 2010. It was considered the most stringent immigration policy in the United States, giving the police broad power to detain people suspected of being in the country illegally and making it a crime to fail to carry proper immigration documents.
The law sparked protests and boycotts and led to a loss of concerts, conventions and business. President Barack Obama said it threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.”
A series of legal battles culminated in a 2012 Supreme Court Decision that struck down parts of the law but maintained a central provision: Law enforcement officials were required to determine the immigration status of anyone they stopped or arrested if they had reason to suspect that the person might be in the country illegally.
Some opponents of Proposition 205 said it would break the 2010 law. Supporters argued that the initiative would instead lay out important clarifications. But they failed to convince voters that the initiative was the best solution.
Also on Tuesday, Regina Romero, a Democratic City Council member, became the first Latina woman to be elected mayor of Tucson. She had opposed Proposition 205.
“Coming from a person like me that has fought anti-immigrant laws like S.B. 1070 and other laws passed by the State Legislature, it was a very difficult position to be at because I believe in the spirit of the proposition,” she said.
But she said that the city would keep working to protect immigrants’ rights and that the proposition might have had unintended effects, such as threatening $125 million in state-shared revenues.
“It really could cripple us financially and affect the services that we provide for the very residents that Prop 205 purported to want to protect,” Ms. Romero said.
The city was far from the only one considering important referendums this week. Voters across the country weighed in on sports gambling, the fate of law enforcement animals, vaping and more. Here’s a look at what they said at the ballot box.
Jersey City snubbed Airbnb.
Amid worries about rising rents, residents in Jersey City voted overwhelmingly for tighter regulations on short-term rentals. The restrictions were seen as a rebuke of Airbnb before it goes public and are likely to reduce the number of listings in New Jersey’s second-largest city.
New York City will have ranked-choice voting.
New Yorkers overwhelmingly supported a system of ranked-choice voting. Beginning in 2021, voters will be able to rank candidates in order of preference, rather than picking only one, for primaries and special elections.
That measure was among the five that city voters approved on Tuesday. Other measures will amend the City Charter to increase the powers of a police oversight board, allowing it to investigate and potentially prosecute police officers suspected of lying to the board, and bar city officials from lobbying their former agencies for two years after they leave public service.
San Francisco upheld an e-cigarette ban.
The city continued on its path to become the first city in the United States to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes. On Tuesday, voters solidly rejected Proposition C, known as An Act to Prevent Youth Use of Vapor Products, which would have lifted a city ordinance effectively banning e-cigarettes that was approved this year.
The contested measure was initially supported by Juul, the country’s largest e-cigarette manufacturer, and would have allowed the sale of vaping devices and nicotine cartridges, with certain restrictions. But in late September, the San Francisco-based company withdrew its support amid criticism from parents, lawmakers and regulators over its marketing practices toward younger customers.
Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, spent millions on advertising to combat Juul’s messaging, which covered the airwaves.
The ban will become effective in January.
Washington leaned against an affirmative action measure.
As of Wednesday, it appeared that voters in Washington State would narrowly reject a ballot measure supporting affirmative action, according to The Seattle Times. The measure, known as Referendum 88, was approved by lawmakers in the spring and would allow ethnicity, age, sex and other factors to be considered in admissions for public colleges and universities, as well as in hiring for state government and contracting jobs. The measure would still prohibit “preferential treatment,” but it would repeal the state’s ban on affirmative action, one of the nation’s first when it was voted into place two decades ago.
The emotionally charged measure forced a reckoning on racial and gender inequality, with the state experiencing a steep slide in the number of state government contracts going toward businesses owned by people of color or women.
Colorado’s sports gambling vote was too close to call.
In a rebuke to Democratic efforts to overhaul the state budget, voters rejected a measure that would have redirected certain tax refunds to education and transportation spending. Proposition CC would have allowed the state to keep tax revenues above the state spending cap that are refunded to taxpayers, which Republicans argued amounted to a tax increase.
The state’s second major ballot measure would legalize and tax sports betting to create a revenue stream for the state’s plan to prevent water shortages. As of Wednesday morning, votes in favor of Proposition DD slightly outnumbered those against it, according to The Denver Post.
If approved, Colorado would be among about a dozen states that have legalized sports gambling.
Texans saw it as a no-brainer: Let handlers adopt retired K-9 dogs.
More than 90 percent of voters in the state approved a constitutional amendment that would allow handlers or “qualified” caregivers to adopt retired K-9s, horses or other animals that have served along side human law enforcement personnel. Currently, the animals are treated like other surplus government property and donated, auctioned off or destroyed.
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