Mayor Greg Stanton responded Thursday to calls for the city to defy state law on immigration issues, saying he wouldn’t ask local police officers to do what activists say it will take to make Phoenix a sanctuary city.
Stanton responded in a statement to a citizen petition presented to the City Council on Wednesday asking to change Phoenix Police Department policy and stop cooperating with federal immigration enforcement. While no exact definition exists of a sanctuary city, local activists have said it requires ending a department policy regarding immigration enforcement.
Though community groups have for weeks escalated their calls for Stanton to change the policy, they aren’t behind the petition the council expects to respond to on Feb. 15. It’s unclear how the item will appear on the council agenda, or if council members will take a vote.
Resident Rick Robinson filed the petition in response to President Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order penalizing sanctuary cities, or jurisdictions that “willfully violate” federal immigration laws.
Stanton called Robinson, a two-time Arizona state House of Representatives candidate, a “Republican political operative.” Robinson said he delivered the petition to spark a decision by the city and didn’t know why he would “be considered more than an ordinary Republican.”
Leaders of Puente Human Rights Movement, a group pushing Phoenix to become a sanctuary city, said they didn’t know about the Phoenix city charter rules regarding petitions. Executive Director Carlos Garcia said he thinks Robinson has political motivations, but that the petition serves Puente’s goals.
“We would ask for the same stance to protect our families,” he said.
Stanton has spoken against the Trump administration’s deportation plans and said Thursday that Phoenix will not participate in the 287(g) program to deputize local police to help federal immigration enforcement through agreements with agencies and jails.
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SOURCE: USA Today; The Arizona Republic, Brenna Goth