Politics

Judge to rule whether 'Sanctuary City' stays on Arizona ballot

Dispute centers on petition signatures

TUCSON, Ariz. - Should Tucson voters have a chance to vote on making the city a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants? A superior court judge is considering that question now.

Advocates for the sanctuary city plan collected signatures to require the city of Tucson to put the issue on a November ballot.

Arguments on whether to block the ballot measure hinged on whether the petition process was valid and whether it collected enough signatures.

Advocates for the Sanctuary City plan brought the Tucson City Clerk their petitions in early July. The city clerk checked them and said they were sufficient to put the issue on the ballot.

The Sanctuary City plan would forbid city government from co-operating with immigration enforcement. Elected city officials actually oppose the plan because they fear state government will impose expensive penalties on the city.

A lawsuit backed by the Pima County Republican Party says the petitions are invalid, part of its argument is the city used the wrong standards to decide the right number of signatures.

Pima GOP attorney John Anderson says, "They're discounting 16,000 qualified electors that voted in the 2015 election but they're not counted for the purpose of the initiative process because they were not Democratic voters. They didn't have a non-Democratic candidate to vote for."

But Paul Gattone, the attorney for the Sanctuary City Initiative says, ‘This is a valid petition. This is a valid initiative. It was rightfully put on the ballot. What we're saying it that the people who passed the initiative followed the rules, they followed state law, the city also followed state law in determining how many signatures were valid."

Judge Douglas Metcalf says he'll rule on this case Friday. Based on his ruling there could be more hearings next week. There is a real time factor here. City ballots have to be printed by September 11th, and they're allowing extra time for appeals.


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