July 15, 2019

Sanctuary city initiative organizer on the movement's goals

A discussion with Zaira Livier, who leads the group spearheading the initiative in Tucson.

An initiative to make Tucson a sanctuary city is likely to appear on the ballot this November. Supporters said they submitted nearly twice the number of signatures required. The People's Defense Initiative is leading the campaign, motivated in part by an opposition to SB 1070. The law was signed in 2010 and requires law enforcement to verify a person’s immigration status in certain circumstances. Zaira Livier, executive director of the People's Defense Initiative, explained what becoming a sanctuary city would mean for undocumented immigrants in the community.

“We put in as many roadblocks as we possibly can. We squeeze SB 1070 to its limit to make it safer and more secure for undocumented migrants to come into contact with police,” Livier said.

The initiative could face legal challenges, according to a January memo from Tucson city attorney Mike Rankin. The memo details potential conflicts with SB 1070, which could possibly trigger another Arizona statute SB 1487. Under the statute, if the attorney general determines a city ordinance breaks state law, the state can suspend its shared revenue with that city unless it repeals or changes the ordinance in question. Livier disputes the premise outlined in Rankin’s memo.

“This is a citizen-led initiative which has its own special protections, and 1487 is absolutely silent on citizen-led initiatives,” Livier said. “We’re absolutely sure that we wrote this initiative to withstand a challenge. The state cannot just pull their funding.”

Arizona 360
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