Voters in Tucson, Arizona, overwhelmingly voted on Tuesday against a proposal to officially make the city a “sanctuary city.”
The proposal, known as Proposition 205, was rejected with 71% voting against it and 29% in favor. It would have imposed additional restrictions on when local law enforcement can ask about an individual’s immigration status or coordinate with federal agents.
But the Democratic leaders of the city, from the mayor to the city council, decried the proposal, saying it would add further restrictions to law enforcement unrelated to immigration and jeopardizes the millions of dollars it gets from the state and the federal government.
The initiative was introduced by immigration activists who said they wanted to send a message that immigrants are welcome in the city.
Zaira Livier, executive director of the People’s Defense Initiative — who introduced the initiative — said Proposition 205 would “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.”
Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild (D) said in an interview before the vote that initiative is unnecessary as “the city of Tucson, in all respects except being labeled as such, operates as a sanctuary city.”
In 2012, Tuscon implemented new restrictions on when law enforcement officers can ask someone about their immigration status and designated the city an “immigrant welcoming city.”
Those restrictions came after Arizona’s legislature passed a law requiring law enforcement officers to verify an individual’s immigration status when they are suspected of being in the country illegally.
The mayor and city council of Tuscon, who are all Democrats, worried about possible negative consequences of passing Proposition 205.
Rothschild said that passing the initiative would endanger the funds it receives from the federal government. President Donald Trump has targeted sanctuary cities by trying to access to federal grants.
In June, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump Administration can take into consideration cities’ cooperation with federal law enforcement when it doles out the Community Oriented Policing Services grants.
Some Republican state lawmakers vowed to punish Tucson if it passed the initiative. Existing laws allow officials to fund off funding if cities pass laws that violate state immigration law.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee said on Wednesday that he suspects Tuscon voters are “feeling good about their vote” after news broke that a suspect, believed to have been involved with a cartel ambush in Mexico that left nine American citizens dead, was arrested in a Mexican town on the Arizona border.
Update on horrific story of Mexican cartel ambush: one suspect arrested in Agua Prieta, across US border from Douglas, Arizona. I’ll bet Tucson residents who killed measure to make Tucson 1st “sanctuary city” are feeling good about their votes right now.https://t.co/pmCc9lF3nw— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) November 6, 2019
Also on Tuesday, Tuscon voters elected the city’s first Hispanic female mayor, Regina Romero (D), who said she opposed Proposition 205 given the city’s immigrant-friendly policies.