Arizona Republican Lawmakers Look To Restrict Potential Sanctuary Cities

As Tucson prepares to vote on the issue, GOP state lawmakers are aiming to restrict the establishment of sanctuary cities in Arizona.

There are no sanctuary cities in Arizona currently, but Tucson is considering becoming one.

Next month, Tucson voters will weigh in on a measure that would prevent police from asking about immigration status and prohibit certain cooperation between city and federal agencies.

On Tuesday, state Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, announced he will introduce a bill during the 2020 legislative session that holds cities liable for any harm caused by sanctuary city policies. Essentially, Arizona cities that don’t notify federal immigration authorities before releasing immigrants who are in the country illegally from custody would be held liable for harm done by them.

“Under my bill, if an illegal alien, who would have been in federal custody were it not for a municipality’s sanctuary city policy, murders, rapes, or harms any resident or damages property, then that resident or his or her survivors can sue the municipality for the harm done,” Kavanagh said in a press release.

“Being a sanctuary city has been illegal for nearly 10 years in Arizona. Municipalities who flaunt and break state law and return dangerous criminals onto our streets need to know that they will pay the price by having to compensate victims for any harm done to them.”

Rep. Jay Lawrence, R-Scottsdale, announced plans to propose legislation that would prevent municipalities from implementing policies that prohibit certain types of immigration enforcement.

“When cities or towns make the decision to ignore our immigration laws it opens the door to many consequences that range from restricting public safety responders to placing fiscal burdens on hardworking taxpayers,” Lawrence said in a press release. “SB 1070 was clear in making sanctuary cities illegal in Arizona and if certain cities and towns decide to violate that law, they should be held accountable.”

SB 1070 was broad state immigration legislation passed in 2010. Courts struck down portions that were ruled to be superseded by federal laws. Despite arguments that it would lead to racial profiling, the provision of SB 1070 allowing local law enforcement officials to ask about immigration status was upheld.

Neither Kavanagh nor Lawrence released the specific language of their proposals.

Click here to read about the Tucson Proposition 205 Sanctuary City Initiative.