On Tuesday, April 27, Mayor Sara Presler and Councilwoman Coral Evans asked the Flagstaff City Council to consider a lawsuit to block implementation of Arizona’s new anti-immigrant law, SB1070. The law drastically increases police intrusion into everyday life in the name of hunting down “illegals”; among many other abhorrent provisions, legal residents face potential jail time if they are stopped and are not carrying their papers.
Dozens of community members came out and commented against the law, many with great eloquence and passion. The Council noted the tremendous burden it will place on city resources and its imposition on local control of law enforcement. After hours of testimony and discussion, the Council unanimously agreed to direct the city legal staff to study a possible lawsuit, and to return to the issue next Tuesday.
That decision put Flagstaff at the forefront of the national debate over this law. Phoenix is currently stuck in a jurisdictional argument over who can decide to sue, and the government of Tucson has been reserved on the issue. On Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh called our council “turncoats” on national radio, and a flood of phone calls and e-mails – including death threats – began pouring into the city. Mayor Presler is up for re-election on May 18th, making her the first elected official in the U.S. to fully face public reaction over the issue, and marking her stand on it as an act of true political courage.
This Tuesday will likely be one of the most crowded and contentious meetings in Council history. Pressure from conservatives will be enormous and groups opposed to the law are also beginning to organize locally. It should be a fight worth watching and more importantly – worth waging.
Editor’s Note: If you wish to show your support to this effort, you can contact the Flagstaff City Council at: [email protected]
Ian Kaplan is a Flagstaff resident and founder of the Facebook Group Am I An Illegal?