SB 1070 debate brought to city council - Tucson News Now

SB 1070 debate brought to city council

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Tucson's city council wants the police chief and city manager's office to explain exactly how they are handling the controversial SB 1070.

In a memo by Councilwoman Karen Uhlich titled "Review of policies and protocols regarding SB 1070 and U-Visa Affidavits" Uhlich says Councilwoman Regina Romero had placed a review of TPD policies and protocols on a Mayor and Council study session in November.

Uhlich went on to write that she had confirmed with the City Manager, that he along with Police Chief Robert Villasenor, and others on the city's legal team had begun preparing content for the presentation.

Uhlich wanted the City Manager and Chief to address specific information regarding TPD's handling of SB 1070 compliance as it pertained to juveniles, victims of crime, witnesses of crime and applicants on the federal U-Visa program.

As city leaders worked to get this information together, dozens of activists and concerned pro-immigration residents showed up at the city council meeting on Wednesday night to voice their concerns.

They were emotional and upset after at least two heated traffic stops in the city, where police called Border Patrol agents, as required by the state law SB 1070.

It's been a heated issue that has sparked immigration protests outside police headquarters and downtown.

City leaders took a strong stand against SB 1070 when it was signed.

On May 4, 2010 less than two weeks after the law went into effect, Tucson mayor and council voted 5-1 to sue the state to overturn the bill.

That didn't happen. Fast forward two years to August, 2012 the city voted 6-1 to proclaim Tucson as an "immigrant welcoming city."

Also in 2012, council unanimously adopted the Arizona Accord to address local harm caused by the failure of congress to pass immigration reform.

The residents who spoke out at the city council meeting pleaded with mayor and council to direct the Police Chief to stop obeying SB 1070.

The law requires police to contact Border Patrol if they encounter someone who cannot prove legal residency. 

"When the law is immoral you have a moral responsibility to disobey that law.  It's not police, it's city council. They have to direct the chief of police," said Roberto Rodriguez.  He added that the law was breaking families apart, and that families should not be split up over a broken tail light. 

Other residents said Tucson was not living up to it's "Immigrant Welcoming City" reputation.

In previous statements, police have said they will continue to enforce what is now state law.

Police say by blocking police and border patrol vehicles, activists are endangering their own safety and the safety of officers who are doing their job.

City council members said they have heard the concerns. They plan to discuss this issue during a study session next week and are asking concerned residents to show up and listen.   City officials say the Police Chief and City Manager's office is working on a presentation for city council. 

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