PHOENIX — Phoenix will not become a sanctuary city after a citizen-filed petition was denied by the city council with a 7-2 vote on Wednesday.
The Phoenix City Council also voted to have an executive session to explore its options regarding the controversial Senate Bill 1070 that was signed into law in 2010.
During a public speech forum before the vote, Carlos Garcia with immigrant activist group Puente Arizona said the recent deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, a mother of two, shows the nation is adopting similar policies to S.B. 1070.
“The country is turning into Arizona,” he said.
Councilman Sal DiCiccio said that he respects activists like Garcia — especially those who risk arrest for what they believe in — but they cannot expect politicians to take such a risk as voting for Phoenix to become a sanctuary city.
“The city of Phoenix will never be a sanctuary city like San Francisco or New York. It’s just never going to happen,” he said.
Councilman Michael Nowkowski said officials need to take a stand on the immigration system, including SB 1070.
“I think we need to fight this ugly, nasty, racist law as the city of Phoenix,” he said, comparing the battle to that of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. “I think Phoenix needs to be that example.”
The petition was met with immediate opposition by multiple leaders, including Mayor Greg Stanton, when it was introduced two weeks ago.
While he is considered to be immigrant-friendly, Stanton — who called the illegal immigration debate the “most important civil rights debate of our time” before Wednesday’s vote — said Phoenix could not be a sanctuary city because of SB 1070.
“It was settled for Phoenix and any other Arizona city by that law known as SB 1070,” the mayor said before the vote, referencing the part of the law that allows police to transport illegal immigrants into federal custody.
A settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union kept that portion of the bill in place.
Stanton wrote in a previous Facebook post that 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.
Gov. Doug Ducey told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos last week that Phoenix could not become a sanctuary city because, if it had, it would have violated federal law.
“We think people should comply with the law,” Ducey said in an exclusive interview with Mac and Gaydos. “The state complies with federal law, cities should comply with federal law, so that’s not something that exists here in the state of Arizona and that’s not something that we’re going to have.”
Several other city officials, including City Attorney Brad Holm, also opposed the measure.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.