Open-Borders Groups File Petition to Make Tucson a Sanctuary City
By Colton R. Overcash | February 7, 2019
Late last year, two open-borders groups joined forces to petition the City of Tucson to become a sanctuary city for illegal aliens, regardless of whether it violates the state’s 2010 anti-sanctuary law, Senate Bill (SB) 1070. And now even the city’s own attorney thinks this could be a huge mistake.
On December 9, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and People’s Defense Initiative jointly filed the Tucson Families Free and Together petition with the city clerk’s office. The petition would amend the Tucson City Code to:
- Prohibit law enforcement from participating in any immigration enforcement activity;
- Prohibit law enforcement from honoring immigration detainers;
- Prohibit law enforcement from inquiring about an individual’s immigration status under any circumstance whatsoever unless the officer can articulate at least two distinct factors leading to a reasonable suspicion. The suspicion may not occur at a school, medical facility, house of worship, courthouse, or traffic stop, and may not include factors such as proximity to other illegal aliens or inability to provide identification; and
- Allow illegal aliens to file suit against city employees and law enforcement officials for not obeying these prohibitions.
The petitioners are required to get 9,241 signatures by July 5, according to the city website. If they are successful, then the city council will have to either adopt the petition within twenty (20) days, or call a special election and allow city residents to vote on the petition by referendum.
If the city council chooses to adopt the proposal, then it will “make [Tucson] vulnerable to legal challenges from the state and federal government” and potentially cost taxpayers millions, according to City Attorney Mike Rankin.
In an eight-page memo, Rankin outlined every state law the city could potentially violate and the legal ramifications the city could face should it adopt the initiative. In particular, Rankin cited Section 41-194.0 of the Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.), which requires the state attorney general to investigate whether any local ordinance violates state law. If a local government is found to have violated state law, then the attorney general is required to file a special lawsuit that goes immediately to the Arizona Supreme Court.
Under the same statute, the attorney general would be required to notify the state treasurer to withhold and redistribute state funds from Tucson and make it ineligible for future funds until its violations are resolved, regardless of if the violations are still being litigated in court.
Representative John Kavanaugh (R-Fountain Hills), one of the original sponsors of SB 1070, said if the Tucson petition were to become law, it “would be illegal on its face” and the legislature would request the attorney general to investigate the matter immediately and file suit.
The ACLU disagrees with Rankin’s legal opinion. Billy Peard, a staff attorney with the ACLU, said “the ordinance proposal was custom-crafted because of the legal situation [sic] in Arizona with regard to SB 1070 and other measures” and can withstand judicial scrutiny. Peard further argued that the local ordinance does not conflict with state law because it “does not prevent officers from doing the minimum required under current state law[.]”
A.R.S. 11-1051(B) clearly states that a “reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of a person” by all state or local law enforcement officials, without interference or obstruction from any county, city, or town. Tucson would likely draw a legal challenge from the state for violating this statute alone. And the city could also be held in contempt or face other sanctions for violating other state laws related to immigration, including those listed in the city attorney’s memo.
What is certain is the petition will set up a direct confrontation between state and local government that could potentially last for months. In the meantime, Tucson residents could lose access to state funding that supports vital public services like health care, education, and emergency services, including more than $141 million the city received from shared state revenues last year, thus jeopardizing the public safety of more than 535,000 people.