Why Tucson Rejected ‘Sanctuary City’ Measure

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In Arizona, a red state known for its strict immigration policies, Tucson has been a spot of blue. At the ballot box on Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly rejected an initiative to turn Tucson into a sanctuary city for migrants, the New York Times reports. Tucson Families Free and Together, or Proposition 205, would have restricted police officers’ ability to detain people based on immigration status and prohibited certain collaborations between local and federal authorities. The goals included “protecting all people’s constitutional and civil rights through reducing arrests” and “creating strong directives against profiling and strong separations between immigration enforcement and local government functions,” said the group promoting the measure, the People’s Defense Initiative.

Tucson has a long history of helping migrants. The city was integral to the 1980s Sanctuary Movement, when migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and other Central American countries made their way to the U.S. with help from churches, synagogues and activist groups, despite having been denied asylum. The Tucson Police Department revised its policies in 2015 to shift officers’ focus away from immigration status in interactions with civilians. About 71 percent of voters said no to Proposition 205 on Tuesday. Critics argued that it could lead to a loss of state or federal funding, block local authorities’ access to federal databases and prevent the police from working with federal law enforcement. The editorial board of the Arizona Daily Star said it “supports the goal and mission of Prop. 205, but we cannot support this specific initiative.” Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said Tucson opposed cruel immigration policies but added that the initiative “would do irreparable harm to this community in ways that have nothing to do with immigration.”

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