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Mayor: Phoenix becoming sanctuary city would violate Arizona law

(Photo by Cooper Gardner/Cronkite News)
LISTEN: Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton - Should Phoenix become a sanctuary city?

PHOENIX — If the Phoenix City Council votes to become a sanctuary city in a few weeks’ time, it will violate Arizona law, Mayor Greg Stanton wrote Thursday.

In a Facebook post, Stanton wrote the designation of a sanctuary city violates one of the few remaining tenets of the controversial Senate Bill 1070 that was signed into law in 2010.

“After a lengthy court battle, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld portions of SB 1070 that apply to all Arizona cities — including Phoenix — nearly five years ago,” the mayor wrote, referencing the part of the law that allows police to transport illegal immigrants into federal custody.

A later settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union kept that portion of the bill in place.

Stanton wrote he would not ask his police officers to knowingly violate the law.

“We must respect the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision and the rule of law,” he wrote.

The mayor may have nothing to worry about, however, when it comes to Phoenix becoming a sanctuary city. The council could opt to not vote on the measure or, as Councilman Sal DiCiccio said, it could be buried.

“My guess? The city staff, the city attorney is going to find a way to bury this and I’m glad about that,” he said Wednesday.

Though he recognized the sanctuary city issue as a matter of law, Stanton wrote he will not allow police officers to participate in the 287(g) program that deputizes local officials to serve as an federal immigration agents. He also wrote that his city will not help President Donald Trump’s administration with his mass deportation plans in any way.

“Doing so would shatter the trust between our officers and our community, making everybody less safe,” the post read.

Stanton wrote such measures are akin to those used by former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was voted out of office in November.

“Voters of conservative Maricopa County overwhelmingly rejected those tactics just a few months ago, and I will continue to reject them in Phoenix,” he wrote.

Arpaio is embroiled in a criminal contempt of court lawsuit that stems from his controversial illegal immigration patrols.

Though there is no agreed upon definition of a sanctuary city, the general consensus defines them as a city that will, in some way, protect illegal immigrants.

In some cases, these cities tell police not to inquire about the immigration status of those they encounter, or they decline requests from immigration officials to keep defendants in custody while they await deportation.

Others say they do cooperate with such “detainer” requests as long as they’re backed by court-issued warrants, but won’t allow local officers to enforce federal immigration law.

KTAR’s Lauren Grifo and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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