In somewhat of a surprise move, left-leaning Tucson, Arizona, voted Tuesday against becoming an official “sanctuary city,” rejecting placing stricter rules on local law enforcement as to when they're allowed to check a person's immigration status.
Tucson already bars police officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status in most cases, going against a 2010 state law that required law enforcement to check a person’s immigration status when they suspected the individual may be in the country illegally. But the new regulations would have restricted officers even further, including barring them from cooperating with federal immigration officials in turning over criminal aliens and essentially nullifying the state law at the local level in an attempt to “send a message” to the state’s Republican-controlled legislature.
But when it came time to officially adopt a "sanctuary city" status, as is often the case, it all came down to the money.
Despite maintaining their desire to be an “immigrant welcoming” city, opponents of the expanded regulations included Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and the Democratic-led city council, who argued that further restrictions on law enforcement would risk millions in state and federal funding.
Even still, Rothschild said his city still “operates as a sanctuary city” in all the ways that matter.
“The city of Tucson, in all respects except being labeled as such, operates as a sanctuary city,” he said.
Regina Romero, the city councilwoman just elected the city’s first female -- and second Hispanic -- mayor, also opposed the sanctuary city initiative, saying the measure is unnecessary given the restrictions that are already on the books.