Tucson progresses toward becoming state’s first sanctuary city

Tucson progresses toward becoming state’s first sanctuary city
Downtown Tucson skyline

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Is Tucson on its way to becoming Arizona’s first designated sanctuary city?

The short answer ... it’s too early to tell.

Months ago, the People’s Defense Initiative started a petition to get a proposal on the November ballot to let voters decide Tucson’s sanctuary city status.

On Monday, July 15, KOLD News 13 learned PDI has more than enough valid signatures and the proposal has qualified for the ballot.

The Pima County Recorders’ Office says 71 percent of the more than 18,000 signatures turned earlier this month are valid.

The Pima County GOP has said it will challenge to the effort. It said there are questions about the legality of the signature petitions and the signature gathering process.

If voters support the measure, Tucson police officers will be prevented from detaining people on the basis of immigration status. It would also keep officers from assisting in the enforcement of federal immigration laws, except in circumstances expressly required by law.

Tucson would become the first city in the state to be a sanctuary city.

There could be more legal hurdles than just the challenge from the Pima County GOP.

In an eight-page memo released by Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin in January, he stated the initiative conflicts with SB 1070 by restricting when officers are allowed to ask about immigration status.

In the memo, Rankin also wrote that passing this initiative raises the possibility the federal or state government, or both, could sue Tucson.

Tucson already identifies as an “Immigrant Welcoming City," but the PDI wants to take one step more with worries the general orders could one day disappear.

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