People's Defense Initiative sanctuary

In January, the People’s Defense Initiative launched its campaign, Tucson Families Free and Together, to collect about 9,200 valid signatures from Tucson voters to place the sanctuary initiative on the November ballot.

An initiative to make Tucson the state’s first “sanctuary city” has qualified for the November ballot, officials say.

The Pima County Recorder's office certified the signatures Monday after verifying a random sample of 871 signatures — about five percent of the roughly 18,000 signatures submitted to the Tucson City Clerk.

Nearly 72 percent of the signatures checked — 625 of them— were valid, Roger Randolph, the city clerk, said in a letter Monday. Of the 246 signatures that were invalidated, 124 were registered voters who lived outside the city limits.

If the Recorder's Office is accurate, more than 12,400 signatures are valid, said Joel Feinman, one of the organizers with the group behind the Tucson Families Free & Together ballot initiative. That's thousands more signatures than the minimum requirement to qualify for the ballot, he said.

Under Arizona law, the only route for a more thorough examination of the submitted signatures would come in the form a formal legal challenge. The Pima County Republican Party has said it will file a lawsuit challenging the signatures, but nothing had been filed as of Monday.

In 2012 the city labeled itself an “immigrant-welcoming city.” That generally refers to jurisdictions that don’t cooperate with federal immigration officials.

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The Tucson Families Free and Together initiative, supporters argue, would put the force of law behind many guidelines already in place here about circumstances under which police can ask about immigration status.

It would also add protections for some victims of crime, and prohibit certain collaborations between city and federal agencies, among other measures.