Voters in Tucson, Arizona had to make a decision yesterday about Prop 205. The measure would have designated their municipality as the only sanctuary city in the state, placing significant restrictions on police in terms of when they can check on the immigration status of suspects. Supporters of the measure also said it would make the city a more “welcoming” place to (presumably illegal) immigrants.
Tucson’s progressives that had pushed for the referendum described it as something that would “send a strong message to Donald Trump.” Well, the message has been sent. It didn’t take long to tally the votes on this measure after the polls closed last night, and the sanctuary city proposition went down in flames.
Tucson voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to designate their town as Arizona’s only sanctuary city. The decision in one of Arizona’s most liberal cities is a relief for the Democrats who control city government. They worry the initiative would jeopardize millions of dollars in state and federal funding and put public safety at risk. The initiative was a direct challenge to the state immigration law that drew global attention, protests, boycotts and lawsuits when it was adopted nine years ago.
The vote apparently wasn’t even close. And this is taking place in one of the most liberal cities in the state. Both the mayor and the members of the City Council (all of whom are Democrats) came out in opposition to the measure. And it’s not as if Tucson is lacking in diversity. In fact, they just elected their first Latina Mayor.
This move was an effort to undermine SB1070, the immigration law passed back in 2010. While parts of the law were eventually struck down in court, the portion requiring police to verify the immigration status of anyone suspected of being in the country illegally remains on the books. Republicans in the state government had already been threatening to enact new measures to enforce the state law if the sanctuary city policy had passed, but apparently that won’t be necessary now.
The Democrats in control of the city government had their own reasons for opposing the proposition and it didn’t have much to do with their attitude toward illegal immigration. They recognized that the city would stand to lose millions of dollars in federal funding if Prop 205 passed, blowing a massive hole in their budget. Nothing speaks to the values of local officials like a fat pile of federal cash, I suppose.
I doubt we’ve heard the last of this effort, given the general mood among Democrats around the country. But at least for now, Tucson will remain in compliance with the law when it comes to illegal aliens. I suppose we should take our small victories where we find them.