Tucson mayor focuses on several issues at conference - Tucson News Now

Tucson mayor focuses on several issues at conference

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Negotiations on immigration reform begin next week between the White House and a group of senators from both sides of the aisle.

President Obama will start his second-term immigration push during a trip to Las Vegas Tuesday.

The senators say they hope to have an outline of their proposals released around the same time. The proposals will mark the start of another year of debate about illegal immigration, border security, and jobs.

Those are all issues that have a significant impact on cities in border states, like Arizona. Tucson is no exception.

That puts border cities in a unique position to contribute to the national discussion immigration reform.

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild says border mayors will have a role, a voice in the national discussion on immigration reform. That's the message he says he got during the U.S. conference of mayors meeting in Washington D.C. from which he has just returned.

Rothschild says President Obama's plan has three principle parts. A pathway to citizenship for those already here. Plus, what Rothschild calls, a rational program for work entry. The third part is safety and security at the border.

Rothschild says more manpower and technology at the border not only adds to security, but also helps the economy by allowing quick and efficient transportation across the border.

Rothschild says border mayors are concerned about all three areas, but the pathway to citizenship will play out nationally and, he hopes, soon.

"I think that there is a national recognition now that it's a problem that needs to be resolved. And So the question's going to be what is going to be required of those people who are here to get to citizenship. And it will be interesting to watch it play out over the next, hopefully, three to six months," says Rothschild.

Another issue Rothschild says the mayors are focused on is the safety of children at school. After the devastating tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut, parents are on edge.

They want their children safe, and many think the way to do that is to bring back school resource officers (SRO's) to each and every campus. Budget cuts have meant an end to SRO's, armed law enforcement officers whose job is to stay put at a school while the children are there.

Rothschild says school resource officers are part of President Obama's plan that includes new firearms laws.

Rothschild says SRO's cost money, and they were lost to budget cuts. He says bringing back SRO's is an issue Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and President Obama agree on.

"It's a lot more than security. Although security now is at the forefront. It is having a person who is a role model in the school. It is a person who can be the eyes and ears of a school to really help with prevention before big problems occur," Rothschild says.

Rothschild says he's convinced Governor Brewer will contribute state money toward SRO's. He's also waiting to see how much money might come from the federal level.

Rothschild says the mayors discussed possible gun legislation and violence in our communities. He says they are priorities for him.

Rothschild says he met with the mayors of other communities that have suffered mass shootings. He says they spoke about the changes their communities go through.

Rothschild says the nation needs a way, through gun legislation, to curb gun murders and suicides. He says president Obama's plan also includes investing in mental health care improvements.    

Rothschild says closing background check loopholes, banning high capacity magazines and military-style assault rifles all could be done while protecting gun rights.

"And all we're talking about is assuring that people who are law abiding are able to protect their rights, but balance that against the rights of all of us law abiding citizens not to be the victim of a senseless crime," Rothschild says.

The mayor's other priorities include education and economic development.

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