TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The group leading the effort to make Tucson the first sanctuary city in the state is suing city officials for electioneering.
Electioneering is when an individual knowingly, intentionally, by verbal expression and in order to induce or compel another person to vote in a particular manner for a candidate, ballot question or political party.
The suit filed Wednesday on behalf of the People’s Defense Initiative claims leaders have been using city money and resources to urge Tucson voters to vote “no” for the 'Tucson Families Free and Together’ initiative, or Proposition 2015.
“We’ve tried to ignore their dirty politics and we decided we needed to file this lawsuit to teach them one way or another that they cannot continue to do electioneering at a local level," said Zaira Livier, director of the People’s Defense Initiative.
The filing comes a day after the City Manager Michael Ortega, City Attorney Mike Rankin and Tucson Police Department Chief of Police Chris Magnus released a memo that contained a list of frequently asked questions pertaining to Prop 205.
The memo was shared by Ward 6 Councilman Steve Kozachik, who is also named in the suit.
Livier said the concerns from the People’s Defense Initiative started long before that memo was posted.
The complaint notes the eight-page memo released by Rankin in January that 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.
“We understand this lawsuit isn’t going to sway voters one way or the other,” said Livier. “We decided from the very beginning this campaign is not just to win, but this campaign is to start changing the fabric of electoral politics in Tucson. To start telling the truth and to start taking a stand and pushing against the people who steer us wrong.”
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 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.
Voters will head to the polls on Nov. 5.