TUCSON, Ariz. - Sanctuary cities are a controversial issue in Arizona and the rest of the country. They are places that have formally declared they will not help with immigration enforcement. Now, working through local U.S. Attorneys, the US Justice Department is mounting a nationwide push to influence public opinion on the issue.
People who oppose Sanctuary City policies say they keep authorities from finding and deporting dangerous criminals.
Sanctuary city supporters say sanctuary policies make communities safer by making people in the u.s. illegally less fearful about talking to police.
Now the U.S. Justice Department is in a nationwide push to convince the public Sanctuary policies should not exist.
Attorney General William Barr told a Sheriff's Association the administration will sue to fight sanctuary policies in California, New Jersey and Washington State.
One day later, in Phoenix, the U.S. Attorney for Arizona was one of many U.S. Attorneys across the country speaking against sanctuary policies...
In Tucson, Assistant U.S. Attorney Liza Granoff says because Arizona has no sanctuary cities, in January alone, Federal authorities were able to charge more than a thousand people who came back to the U.S. after they'd been deported.
“A large majority had DUI convictions. They had domestic violence offenses. We saw two defendants who had been convicted of homicide. We saw sex offenders among that group of individuals, and a large part of those people that weren't charged had three or more prior deportations.”
Arizona’s U.S. Attorney Office released statistics for January to document the histories of some of the undocumented people arrested.
In Tucson, voters rejected an initiative to require a sanctuary policy roughly 70 percent to 30 percent. But Tucson Police were already under a policy to not participate in immigration enforcement.
Billy Peard is an attorney who worked on the Tucson Sanctuary effort. He says Sanctuary policies make a city safer because undocumented people are less afraid to share information that helps police fight crime. He describes the Federal push as more bark than bite.
“It appears to be more of a press effort to it from my perspective to intimidate or scare local elected officials and local policymakers from, you know, enacting future policies or perhaps intimidating them to repeal or rollback existing sanctuary policies at their city level".
No government in Arizona has a sanctuary city policy now and Governor Ducey wants to close out that possibility. He's calling for a vote that would change the state constitution to forbid sanctuary cities.