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Why Republican Lawmakers Are Pushing To Ban Sanctuary Cities In Arizona

LAUREN GILGER: In 2010, then-Governor Jan Brewer signed SB 1070, setting off a chain reaction that energized a generation of activists and helped shape Arizona politics today. That energy is rising again as the Legislature now considers a bill that would amend the state constitution to include a ban on sanctuary cities. Such a ban already exists in state law — as part of SB 1070 that still stands. But Republican Rep. T.J. Shope, who is sponsoring the proposal, says his bill is necessary to make a technical change.

T.J. SHOPE: We're talking about a small portion of SB 1070 that was ruled constitutional. Look, let’s be honest, 'show your papers,' things like that that many thought were borderline unconstitutional were later proven to be. This portion was not."

STEVE GOLDSTEIN: This comes after a ballot initiative to officially make Tucson a sanctuary city was on the November ballot. It was rejected by voters, but, Shope says, the fact that the question was considered at all has led to his proposal.

SHOPE: What we saw with what Tucson was able to put on the ballot — and obviously, it was defeated, I recognize that — is that there has always been and always will be, in Arizona’s Constitution, ambiguity on the difference in what charter cities are able to do versus non-charter cities.

GILGER: But many pro-immigrant activists and Democrats are still calling this a return to the days of SB 1070. Shope says those criticisms that have been leveled at him, his bill and the governor, who called for the referral, are unfair.

SHOPE: You know, if we were talking about enshrining in the state’s Constitution actual 1070, yes, I think you could make that comparison all day long. We’re talking about something that is already state statute. In fact, every single person in the state of Arizona right now, whether legal or not, will notice not one bit of difference after election day should this pass.

GILGER: Our next guest doesn’t see it that way. Democratic Rep. Raquel Teran stood against 1070 a decade ago, and she’s pushing back against the sanctuary city referral today. She joins us now. Good morning, Representative.

RAQUEL TERAN: Good morning. Thank you for having me.

GILGER:  Thank you for coming in. So your colleague, Rep. Shope, says this is just a technical change. You do not see it that way. Why not?

TERAN: We do not see it that way because, I mean, the only I think that the only technical thing is that this is a directive from President Donald Trump. When the governor said in his state of the state that sanctuary cities needed to be banned, it was clear that it was their 2020 election that was moving forward. That this is going to be part of their narrative. And frankly, moving something like this to enshrining something like this into the constitution at the end of the day is weaponizing. It's really weaponizing against the Latino community. And that, frankly, is going to be Gov. Ducey's and even Mr. Shope's legacy.

GOLDSTEIN: What do you think the governor's perspective is on this? Because we had heard that he is a pro-business governor. He witnessed what SB 1070 did, at the very least with perception and in hurting the business community. So are you surprised that the governor would be so out front on this, an issue that at least reputation wise could hurt the state?

TERAN: No, it's very unfortunate to see the governor and the state legislature move in this direction because it's taken 10 years for us to regain our economy, because SB 1070 really affected our economy. There were millions and millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars that we lost in revenue the first six months. The country, the world saw Arizona as an unwelcoming state. And it's been taking us 10 years to get our name back, and now they want to go back to SB 1070. And it's interesting to see the governor go in this direction because he is always touting the relationship that we now have with Mexico but at the same time wants to declare Arizona an unwelcoming state.

GILGER: So I want to talk more about this comparison to 1070. This is obviously just a piece of what was in 1070. But opponents say it's sort of stirring up the same emotions. That's the point, right? That opponents are saying this was the idea was to, you know, make a political point here. Do you think this is going to create a backlash?

TERAN: I think it is. I think it is going to create a backlash. I think they're gambling with the economy of Arizona. They're gambling with the Latino families here in Arizona and immigrant families in Arizona. They're even gambling with the census. Imagine when we're creating this type of rhetoric. People hear it. People get scared. But we also know that there is a different infrastructure than there was in 2010. In 2010, we know that organizations were working to ensure that women, youth, Latinos were part of the decision making process. And during that time, that's when many organizations came together and moved forward on creating a different political landscape. And so Arizonans, through these organizations ... recalled Russell Pearce, ousted Sheriff Joe Arpaio, changed the landscape of the state legislature in the Senate and the House, statewide offices. So I think we're in a completely different state right now.

GOLDSTEIN: Does this make the 2020 campaign potentially even nastier then, the idea that this is one of those that will get both bases fired up, and we won't have that that hoped for sort of consensus on things? It is clearly one side against the other, with nothing in between.

TERAN: I do think so, because the intention of these bills — because there is also a bill that has to do with sanctuary cities and the referals — is to divide the community. And unfortunately, the way that they're trying to divide the community is by creating fear. So there was a clear mandate by the voters last year when we saw the outcomes of 2018 here in Arizona, that they want Arizona to move forward with infrastructure, education, health care and ... away from this type of anti-immigrant legislation.

GILGER: So what do you think will change? What do you think will be different if this does go to voters and then pass? I mean, so T.J. Shope is saying nothing will technically change. This is just about the ambiguity in the law.

TERAN: Anytime we're asking subdivisions to act like law enforcement, like immigration law enforcement, it's a danger for our communities. And frankly, we we see that this could affect our education, health care centers where they have to report undocumented people. So that is a fear mongering thing, frankly.

GILGER: All right. Democratic Representative Raquel Tauron, thank you so much for coming in.

TERAN: Thank you for having me.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.