The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.
Proposition 205 is a citizen-led initiative on the 2019 city of Tucson ballot. Prop. 205 provides all Tucson families with equal protection under the law, protects community members from racial profiling and creates protections so everyone can feel safe in hospitals, churches and schools.
A community effort led by local activists put Prop. 205 on the ballot. These activists collected twice the number of signatures needed for the measure to qualify for the ballot, followed all appropriate guidelines and rules for city initiatives, and successfully defeated a legal challenge backed by the Pima County Republican Party. The Pima County Democratic Party endorses 205.
Tucsonans are proud that we are one of the historic homes of the Sanctuary Movement where faith groups offered refuge and physical safety for Central American refugees in the 1980s. That Sanctuary Movement was religiously motivated, but the same values can be enacted secularly to provide concrete legal protections to immigrants.
Prop. 205 was written specifically for Tucson to ensure immigrant communities are as protected as possible from racist laws like Senate Bill 1070, and the growing menace of President Trump’s attacks on immigrants and asylum seekers.
Policies like those of Prop. 205 support safety by creating trust between local police and immigrant communities. Prop. 205 does not modify criminal statutes and it does not limit the ability of police to investigate, detain or arrest individuals. It simply bars police officers from racial profiling, and prohibits first responders from asking the victims and witnesses of crime about their immigration status. These measures build trust without hindering law enforcement’s ability to investigate and deter crime.
One reason immigrant communities distrust law enforcement officers is because of documented collaboration between local and federal authorities. Local law-enforcement agencies have memorandums of understanding with federal agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol that specify the local and federal roles in the agencies’ local activities.
Prop. 205 proposes that Tucson’s memoranda with these agencies include provisions that prohibit the federal agencies from conducting traffic stops within city limits in order to enforce civil immigration laws. Tucson should be able to advocate for the safety of everyone in our community while still partnering with federal agencies. Prop. 205 does not in any way prohibit local and federal law enforcement partnerships.
Some people have expressed concerns about a possible negative impact on federal and state funding for Tucson if voters pass Prop. 205. So far cities with sanctuary policies have been successful in fighting the Trump administration’s attempts to withhold federal funding.
In Arizona, Senate Bill 1487 prohibits cities from passing local laws conflicting with state law. But the authors of 205 specifically drafted it so it would not violate state law. Prop. 205 might also be exempt from legislative interference because, as a citizens’ initiative, it has unique status under the Arizona Constitution.
I support Prop. 205 as a good approach to protecting our community. I support Prop. 205 because it is in line with values we hold dear. Please vote to protect Tucson families from the negative consequences of overzealous immigration enforcement. Please vote Yes on Prop. 205.
Richard Elias, a Democrat, is chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors. Contact him at Disrict5@pima.gov.
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