Pima County considers 'immigrant-friendly' designation

2014-02-10T00:00:00Z Pima County considers 'immigrant-friendly' designationBy Joe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Pima County Board of Supervisors will consider a measure Tuesday to make the county a little more friendly to immigrants.

The board will consider a nonbinding resolution declaring 9,188-square-mile Pima County to be an “immigrant-welcoming” community.

The largely symbolic measure comes more than a year after the city of Tucson passed a similar measure declaring itself to be an immigrant-welcoming city.

Four out of five supervisors offered initial support for the measure on Friday, with only Supervisor Ally Miller declining to comment.

Chairwoman Sharon Bronson, who brought forward the proposal, insists that economics, not politics, is her reason for introducing the measure.

The two-page resolution notes that Mexico is the United States’ third-largest trading partner and second-largest market for U.S. exports.

It also points out that an estimated 400,000 people and 15,000 containers cross the U.S.-Mexican border legally every year and an estimated 6 million jobs in the U.S. are tied to trade with the nation’s southern neighbor.

Imports and exports with Mexico totaled $500 billion in 2011, according to federal statistics.

Increased trade with Mexico is a key economic development policy for the county. Officials envision running the last leg of the proposed Interstate 11 — which would connect Canada to Mexico — through Pima County, and Bronson said the measure is designed to make Mexican residents feel welcome here in Pima County.

“We respect the rights of all immigrants. We welcome those who come here from all parts of the world and from all backgrounds, and we recognize the value of their economic and cultural contributions to our communities,” the resolution reads.

The measure falls short of any changes in actual adopted county policies and says the U.S. Congress “needs to adopt comprehensive immigration reform that creates a more workable and welcoming immigration policy.”

Supervisor Ray Carroll supports the resolution proposed by Bronson, but concedes that any substantive immigration reform must be made at the federal level.

Carroll has long supported various immigrant communities in Pima County — not just those with ties to Mexico, but also refugees from across the globe who have made the greater Tucson area their homes.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@azstarnet.com or 573-4346. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFerguson.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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