The Truth about Proposition 205

Officials in Tucson are using their platform to attack Proposition 205. These attacks are based in fear, from the people who have the least to lose if Proposition 205 fails. This fear (fear of Trump, fear of Arizona legislators) is preventing these officials from taking a stand for our vulnerable communities.  

The truth is Proposition 205 is a community-led effort with a clear goal of protecting our immigrant community members in Tucson. The truth is sanctuary policies promote community safety. The truth is that we need to do a better job of standing up for immigrant in Tucson, Arizona and our Country. 

We responded below to one example of the public campaign by city officials against Proposition 205, Steve Kozachik’s 7/8/2019 newsletter. The newsletter is posted publicly on his Ward website. 

Truth: This effort is a grass-roots community effort led by people who call Tucson home.  This group collected more than enough signatures to qualify (almost double!).  

In his newsletter, Steve K. was dismissive and condescending toward this citizen led effort. He wrote “the group,” “we were advised,” “what appears to be,” and “it appears we will have to vote on this later this year.” “The group” has a name that is readily searchable via the internet: Tucson Families Free and Together. This effort is led by Tucson community members, not outsiders as his language implies. The language also created a misleading impression of doubt about the proposition process. The campaign has followed the appropriate guidelines and rules for city initiatives and so far has met the eligibility criteria and successfully defeated a challenge from the Pima GOP.

Truth: Sanctuary is a term that describes an array of policies, programs and actions. Legal experts have categorized policies that can be defined as Sanctuary. Additionally, Proposition 205 is explicitly defined in the proposal language which is easily accessed on the campaign website. 

Steve K. claimed that sanctuary is “not defined in law.” This is misleading.  Sanctuary is a broad term used to describe an array of programs and policies. Legal experts (Sullivan 2009; Critchley & Trembly, 2017) have reviewed the programs and policies that are grouped together under sanctuary.

This proposition can be described as sanctuary, and it is clearly defined and the details of the policy (now Proposition 205) and is available for everyone to review. Although Steve K. encouraged his constituents to “please do your homework,” he did not include any links for how they could do so. 

Truth: Proposition 205 does not modify criminal statutes nor impede the ability of police to fully investigate allegations of criminal conduct. It does not limit the ability of police to investigate, detain or arrest individuals if they have probable cause a crime has been committed. In fact, Proposition 205 is likely to build trust between police and immigrant communities, just as Chief Magnus described in his Op-Ed in the NY Times 

One of the sections of the newsletter that troubled me most was the claim that seemed to assert that this proposition would prevent the police from fully investigating crimes: “Some of the crimes listed in the Initiative include child molestation, domestic violence, sex with minors, sexual misconduct by behavioral health professionals, and aggrevated DV.” This proposition does not limit police ability to investigate, to detain, or arrest individuals if they have probable cause a crime has been committed. 

This claim plays on racist fears that immigrants are criminals.  It plays on the factually incorrect assertion that immigration and sanctuary policies are linked to increased crime. Research has consistently shown that cities with significant immigrant populations are as safe or safer than comparison communities. An analysis of research on jurisdictions with sanctuary policies (Martinez et al, 2018) shows no relationship between sanctuary policies and crime or a negative relationship (e.g., a decrease in crime). 

Relevant to the crimes Steve K. listed, under state law, police have little discretion to not arrest if a felony crime is involved. Thus in the cases identified (which are all felony crimes and in the case of domestic violence, police can arrest for the misdemeanor crime), the police can make an arrest based on probable cause, transport the individual to jail, where their immigration status will automatically be checked.

This proposition does not limit police ability to investigate, to detain, or arrest individuals if a crime has been committed. This proposition simply adds protections that prohibit police from relying on racial, cultural, and linguistic profiling as a reason to ask about immigration status and prohibits police from asking about status from anyone who is not detained or arrested (e.g., witnesses or victims).