/ Modified nov 14, 2013 9:07 a.m.

Tucson Council OKs SB 1070 Enforcement Changes

Unanimous vote directs police ' to protect overall safety of all members of community' rather than immigration status.


The Tucson City Council voted Wednesday to change how the city's police enforce Arizona's controversial anti-undocumented immigration law, SB 1070.

The council's unanimous voice approved a proposal from City Council member Regina Romero telling police to put public safety ahead of all other considerations, including checking someone's immigration status.

The move was endorsed by City Manager Richard Miranda, Police Chief Roberto VillaseƱor and City Attorney Mike Rankin.

Under it, police are instructed not to question minors about immigration status without their guardians or lawyers present, not to check the immigration status of anyone calling to report police officer misconduct and to create a "community outreach plan ... to include regular participation with the city's Immigrant Welcoming Task Force."

"This community is really fed up with SB1070," Romero said.

SB 1070, passed by the Arizona Legislature in 2010, requires police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being in the United States illegally.

Several protests have occurred recently in Tucson at the scenes of police arrests of people suspected of being in the country illegally. VillaseƱor has said in response to protests that while he is not a supporter of SB 1070, he is obliged to enforce it.

Immigrant advocates have called on Tucson police to back off of its enforcement, and in response to the recent incidents, the ACLU of Arizona drew up recommendations that it said would be in line with SB 1070's requirements.

"This is a monumental victory," said Raul Alcaraz Ochoa, an immigrant rights activist. "But this is just the beginning, we will continue to be vigilant and time will tell whether these policies will translate into practice."

The law's stop-and-question provision was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last year in a decision that struck down three other parts of the law. The court's ruling said it would entertain evidence of constitutional rights violations under the stop-and-question provision as the law was applied.

The ACLU last week filed a claim against the South Tucson Police department, saying it violated 4th Amendment rights under SB 1070 in the arrest of someone suspected of being in the country illegally.

Despite having said many times that TPD has its hands tied, there are things the department can do to avoid civil rights violations, said James Duffy Lyall, a staff attorney with the American Liberties Union of Arizona.

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