- Associated Press - Thursday, February 2, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) - The Phoenix City Council will consider a petition from a resident to join other major cities across the country in adopting sanctuary policies that shield immigrants and have come under fire from President Trump.

However, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said Thursday that no city in Arizona can legally offer sanctuary after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld portions of SB1070, a state law that aimed to crack down on illegal immigration.

He said the surviving sections of the law prevent local government agencies from restricting the enforcement of federal immigration law.

Still, Stanton pledged to fight “the federal government’s attempt to turn the Phoenix Police Department into a mass deportation force” and said the city about 180 miles from the Mexico border would remain a “welcoming and diverse city.”

The petition was submitted Wednesday by Phoenix resident Rick Robinson and invokes a City Charter provision requiring the council to act on it within 15 days.

Phoenix officials say the City Council will consider the petition on Feb. 15.

The term “sanctuary city” is loosely defined but generally means municipalities don’t cooperate with federal authorities on immigration matters such as requests that local jails hold a suspect while authorities investigate their immigration status.

Proponents of sanctuary policies say they help foster trust between immigrants and local police as they investigate crimes.

Trump has threatened to withdraw federal funding from sanctuary cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago.

The issue has set off wide debate around the country as big city mayors say they will defy the president.

California is pushing to offer sanctuary throughout the state while Texas, another border state, seeks to withhold funding from cities with the policies.

Robinson declined to say whether he wants Phoenix to declare itself a sanctuary city. He told KPHO-KTVK-TV (https://goo.gl/PbXJU2) that he filed the petition because he “felt that the city needed to get out in front of this.”

Under SB1070, state and local authorities can’t prohibit or restrict the sharing of information on people’s immigration status with federal agencies for determining eligibility of a public benefit, verifying a claim of residence and determining whether an immigrant has complied with federal registration laws.

Also under the law, any Arizonan can file a lawsuit to challenge agencies that have a policy of restricting the enforcement of federal immigration law.

Stanton previously denounced Trump’s recent executive orders to withhold federal funding from communities with sanctuary policies and calling for a border wall, characterizing them as “a divisive attack on Latinos in Phoenix and around the country.”

Immigrant rights groups have put pressure on Stanton in the past few weeks, staging protests outside City Hall to persuade city officials to adopt sanctuary policies.

“Municipalities across the country - including Birmingham, Seattle, and Chicago - have decided to stand on the right side of history and fight back against hate,” said Lucia Sandoval, a spokeswoman for the activist group Puente Arizona. “Phoenix must take bold action to protect our immigrant, Muslim, and LGBTQ communities,”

A Stanton critic, Councilman Sal DiCiccio, said the council should vote on the petition but noted that he opposes making Phoenix a sanctuary city.

“I believe such a move would be illegal and would put our officers in the unethical position of having to ignore their oath to uphold state and federal laws,” he said.



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