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Tucson Says No Means to Enforce Immigration Law

TUCSON (CN) - Tucson has joined the fight against Arizona's controversial immigration law, claiming in Federal Court that it lacks the money and resources to enforce the state law, which it says conflicts with "federal law, policies and priorities for enforcement."

In a cross-complaint filed after a Tucson police officer sued the city and state, Tucson demands a declaration that the law, SB 1070, is unconstitutional in order to avoid being disciplined for not enforcing it.

The city claims SB 1070 "mandates the detention and verification of the immigration status of arrestees without any reasonable suspicion, probable cause or other independent legal basis for continued detention in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

The law also pulls police officers away from pursuing urgent duties and more violent or pressing crimes, the cross-complaint claims.

The United States has already regulated immigration control through the Immigration and Naturalization Act, the complaint claims. But the law "seeks to control and regulate immigration" in a way that allegedly conflicts with federal law and will force the city to "implement an unconstitutional law."

Tucson says it works with federal immigration agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Border Patrol when individuals are identified as illegal immigrants. The city claims that the Border Patrol may not be able to respond to every "local law enforcement request to verify an individual's status or take custody of every undocumented alien from local law enforcement," and that ICE may not be able to "respond with an immediate verification of the immigration status of every person who receives a criminal misdemeanor citation" within Tucson and the state.

If a person's status is not quickly verified, the city says it will have to incarcerate those who may have been released after a verification of their status by federal agents. Federal verifications may take days or weeks, the lawsuit claims, increasing the city's incarceration costs and inconveniencing legal citizens who are without immigration papers or passports.

The city objects to the law's provision that any legal resident may file a superior court claim to challenge a city official or agency that "limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to the fullest extent permitted by federal law." This provision, the city says, interferes with police power by placing control in Arizona residents "whose motives may or may not be consistent with the governing body and public officials responsible for law enforcement."

The city's budget, as recommended by city manager Mike Letcher, does not include money for "the enforcement of federal immigration laws to the fullest extent permitted by federal law," the lawsuit claims.

Tucson also claims that New Mexico residents may be subject to arrest because they are not required to have proof of U.S. citizenship or immigration status to get a driver's license, forcing them to carry a birth certificate or passport when traveling through Arizona.

The city seeks an order barring the state from enforcing the law and a declaration that the law is unconstitutional. It is represented by city attorney Mike Rankin.

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