The Tucson City Council voted Tuesday to put an initiative on the November 2019 ballot that would enact sanctuary city policies in the city’s code.
If the mayor and city council had approved the measure, it would have become law without an election.
If the initiative is approved, Tucson would become the first sanctuary city in Arizona.
The initiative would include in city code a declaration of the city’s sanctuary status and add the following provisions:
- restricting law enforcement officers from actions to determine a person’s immigration status under certain conditions;
- prohibiting officers from contacting federal law enforcement agencies to determine a person’s immigration status;
- and prohibiting city employees from inquiring about a person’s immigration status, among other policies.
The group Tucson Families Free and Together submitted about 18,000 signatures on July 3, 2019. They needed to collect 9,241 valid signatures by July 5, 2019, to qualify the initiative for the November general election ballot. Through a random sampling of 871 signatures, the Pima County Recorder found that a projected 71.8% of the submitted signatures were valid. This sent the initiative to the city council, which had two options: approve the initiative and enact it into law without an election, or send it to the voters.
Tucson mayoral candidates Randi Dorman (D), Regina Romero (D), Steve Farley (D), and Ed Ackerley (I) have announced their opposition to the initiative. U.S. Sen. Martha McSally (R) and U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly (D) also stated that they oppose the measure.
Three Tucson voters, assisted by the Pima County Republican Party, filed a legal challenge against the sufficiency of the initiative petition based on the number of valid signatures required and the percentage of submitted signatures counted as valid.
Ballotpedia’s August 2017 review of municipal immigration policies found that 32 of the nation’s 100 largest cities by population self-identified as sanctuary cities or maintained sanctuary policies. As of 2017, 30 of the 32 cities identified as sanctuary jurisdictions had Democratic mayors. The other two had Republican mayors.