This opinion piece was originally published in the Tucson Star.
Arizona is no stranger to vicious attacks on immigrants. Our state is home to SB 1070, one of the most bigoted and anti-immigrant laws in our nation’s history. SB 1070 was enacted nearly 10 years ago and trampled people’s civil rights and civil liberties. Our proactive work keeping local law enforcement out of the business of enforcing federal immigration law began then and continues today with our endorsement of Proposition 205: Tucson Families Free and Together.
Prop. 205 is named “Tucson Families Free and Together” because that’s exactly what this historic initiative aims to do. If passed, Prop. 205 will make Tucson a safer city for all its residents. It will keep families together, communities strong and rebuild the public’s trust in local police.
Prop. 205 is a remarkable opportunity for Tucson to send a message to Arizona and the nation that this city cares about the safety and well-being of all our friends, neighbors and community members.
Unfortunately, attacks on our most vulnerable populations continue today in Arizona and across the nation. The Trump administration is determined to push its anti-immigrant agenda and has dramatically increased the use of immigration detention.
SB 1070, and its “show me your papers” provision, has served as a pipeline for Trump’s deportation efforts because migrants – even those accused of no crimes – end up in long-term immigration detention following routine interactions with law enforcement agencies. The practice of prolonging traffic stops to contact federal immigration authorities is resulting in the systematic separation of families each and every day in departments across the state. We know that these discriminatory policing practices have not stopped. In 2016, an investigation into the Tucson Police Department (TPD) revealed that officers were prolonging traffic stops in order to investigate individuals’ immigration status.
Prop. 205 aims to curb these attacks by protecting all community members – migrants, domestic violence survivors and anyone else who is afraid to call police for fear of deportation or retaliation. It limits the ability of TPD to engage in discriminatory policing practices like questioning people about their immigration status, thereby decreasing instances of racial profiling and increasing the trust between police and community.
Prop. 205 prevents TPD from making assumptions about a person’s immigration status based on certain characteristics including whether they speak English or how they are dressed. It prohibits Tucson police officers from asking individuals about immigration status in hospitals, houses of worship and courthouses. It prohibits Tucson police officers from asking most vehicle passengers about their immigration status and it prohibits Tucson police officers from asking victims of certain crimes and domestic abuse about their immigration status.
Arizona has a long history of racial profiling following SB 1070. Though most of the provisions of SB 1070 have been struck down by the courts for being unconstitutional, there remains much more work to be done. If passed by Tucson voters —on Nov. 5 — Prop. 205 can begin to reverse some of the damage caused by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s practice of racial profiling and Gov. Jan Brewer’s signage of SB 1070. (Editor’s note: Prop. 205 only applies to the city of Tucson).
We at the ACLU of Arizona are proud to stand with Prop. 205 and support an initiative that will not only put an end to racial profiling practices in Tucson but will help realize our vision for a just and inclusive state where the rights of all are respected. We support creating welcoming and inclusive cities where everyone feels safe. We hope Tucson voters share our vision and vote “yes” on Prop. 205.