TUCSON, Ariz. — Efforts are now underway to turn Tucson into Arizona's first sanctuary city.
The political action group, the People's Defense Initiative, has until July 5th to collect more than 9,000 valid signatures. Once it achieves that, the initiative to make Tucson a sanctuary city will be on the November 2019 ballot.
"Tucson has a long valuable history in protecting our undocumented neighbors and we're just following through with that," said Zaira Livier, People's Defense Initiative Director
In the 1980s, the Southside Presbyterian Church was the first in the nation to declare it a sanctuary for migrants. And today, full sanctuary is limited to churches. But this form of sanctuary called "The Tucson Families Free and Together Initiative" is calling for more set-in-stone city-wide policies.
"Our sanctuary initiative is a very sensible initiative. The City of Tucson has already taken a lot of really valuable steps and so has Chief Magnus with the police department. We're just taking it a step further and giving it some teeth. And we'll make it actual law rather just internal policy," said Livier.
One of the points is prohibiting police officers and city employees from detaining anyone based on their immigration status. Livier said she's received an overwhelming amount of support over the keys issues she and her team are fighting to make as law.
"People are really excited for a lot of reasons. One of them being that this is people-led. it's a campaign of hope and a campaign of love. One because there is not a lot that we can do about the federal inhumane policies. But we really want to send the message to people in Tucson that we can make Tucson a safe place for everybody. We can make Tucson a place where everybody can thrive," said Livier.
On Saturday from 2 p.m. To 6 p.m. supporters will get together to officially kick off this new initiative at the historical YMCA downtown. To read more on the key points of the initiative, click here.
This will likely stir the ongoing debate that's been going on for decades in Tucson. We will continue to follow the story.