Tucson to Vote on Becoming Arizona’s Only Sanctuary City

By Shani Saxon Nov 05, 2019

Residents of Tucson, Arizona will decide the fate of a crucial immigration initiative on Tuesday (November 5). The measure, known as Proposition 205, calls for turning the mostly liberal city into the state’s first sanctuary city, reports The New York Times.  

Activists from People's Defense Initiative organized the effort that ultimately turned into Proposition 205, also known as Tucson Families Free and Together. According to a statement on the group’s website, the goal of the measure is to provide as much support as possible to the city’s large Latinx population. “[We] have both the right and absolute responsibility to defend and protect the most vulnerable members of our community,” the statement reads. Prop 205,  “proposes a number of new policies which will reduce arrests, create strong directives against racial profiling, and assure strong separations between federal immigration agencies and local law enforcement.”

If the measure passes on Tuesday, new restrictions would be implemented around police questioning residents about immigration status. Per The Times:


It explicitly aims to neuter a 2010 Arizona immigration law known as SB1070, which drew mass protests and a boycott of the state. It prohibits sanctuary cities in Arizona and requires police, when enforcing other laws, to verify the immigration status of anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Courts threw out much of the law but upheld the requirement for officers to check immigration papers.

Zaira Livier, executive director of People's Defense, spoke to The Times about the need for this legislation. "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," she said. 

According to The Times, however, left-leaning Tucson residents have mixed feelings about Prop 205. It is “dividing progressives” in the area. Some want to send a stern message to the Trump administration by passing the bill, but others “worry the move would only draw his ire without improving conditions for migrants.”

Per The Times:


Tucson's mayor and city council members, all of them Democrats, are opposed because they're concerned about unintended consequences and the potential for losing millions of dollars in state and federal funding. They say Tucson police have already adopted rules that go as far as legally possible to restrict officers from enforcing federal immigration laws.

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild told the news outlet that his city is already supporting immigrants in the community. "The city of Tucson,” he said, “in all respects except being labeled as such, operates as a sanctuary city.”

Those pushing for the measure to pass think it’s necessary to officially become a sanctuary city. As People’s Defense explained in their statement, “By protecting all people’s constitutional and civil rights we can ensure a community where everyone can thrive, regardless of their immigration status.”