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Monday, April 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Tucson Council Protects Immigrant Kids

TUCSON (CN) - Police resource officers in Tucson city schools cannot ask kids about their immigration status, by unanimous vote of the City Council.

The council on Tuesday night approved an intergovernmental agreement between Tucson Unified School District and the Tucson Police Department. The agreement hammered out the details of implementing a Fiscal Officer for a School Safety Program (SSP) grant that the district received from the state.

The school district in September approved the agreement to put about eight officers in local schools, but the city held back final approval over concerns about the immigration issue.

Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor has been a frequent critic of Arizona's tough immigration policies. As a matter of policy his officers question minors on their immigration status only in the presence of a parent, guardian or attorney, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

The City Council voted unanimously in August to make Tucson an "Immigrant Welcoming City."

"No parent should fear sending their son or daughter to school because it might lead to immigration detention," ACLU Arizona Executive Director Alessandra Soler said in a statement applauding the council's vote.

"All communities throughout the state that choose to put police in their schools should follow Tucson's lead and adopt policies that prohibit immigration questioning of students."

Arizona has filed repeated lawsuits challenging federal policies that give virtually any benefits to immigrants. Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, in Phoenix, was investigated by the Department of Justice for his immigration raids, and has been sued hundreds of times on civil rights charges.

Tucson is a different sort of place, no doubt due in part to its being the birthplace of the 1980s Sanctuary movement, in which Southside Presbyterian Church opened itself to refugees from wars in Central America. Many other Tucson churches joined, and the city became a center of information about immigration and refugee issues.

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