Activists Tell Mayor Stanton: Stand Up to Trump, Protect Immigrants

Antonia Farzan
Maria Castro held a sign that said, “Stanton: Stand Up To Trump,” as she stood outside Phoenix City Council chambers Tuesday afternoon.

Her message to Mayor Greg Stanton was clear:

Make good on your pledge to protect undocumented immigrants in Phoenix.

“I’m not undocumented, but my mother is, and she’s been deported,” Castro said. “I’m scared that if my mom jaywalks, she could be back in Mexico within 12 hours and leave me and my sister on our own.”

Stanton has promised that Phoenix won’t participate in the 287(g) program, which would give local law enforcement officers the authority to identify, process, and detain undocumented immigrants.

But the city is still subject to SB 1070, which prohibits local law enforcement agencies from restricting the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

It also has its own law, Operation Order 4.48, which requires police officers to cooperate with federal immigration officials.

In other words, Phoenix won’t voluntarily help Trump carry out mass deportations. But if an executive order along the lines of the so-called Muslim ban comes down the pipeline, the city’s hands are tied.

click to enlarge ANTONIA FARZAN
Antonia Farzan
Castro, an organizer with People United for Justice, wants to see the city abolish Order 4.48 and challenge SB 1070 in court.

“I think Phoenix is in a special place,” she said. “Our president is a Republican, Congress is controlled by Republicans, the state legislature is controlled by Republicans ... we need to set a new standard with what we do here. This is an opportunity.”

Currently, the odds of Phoenix becoming a true sanctuary city appear to be slim to none.

As New Times reported last week, four of the eight city council members — Debra Stark, Thelda Williams, Jim Waring, and Sal DiCiccio — have announced their opposition. The remaining four have yet to take a public stance.

Meanwhile, Stanton issued a statement saying that Phoenix would comply with SB 1070.

"The issue of whether any Arizona city can be a so-called ‘sanctuary city’ is already settled by state law,” the statement explained. “We must respect the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision and the rule of law — and I will not ask Phoenix police officers to knowingly violate the law.”

Nonetheless, Castro is hoping that residents who want to see Phoenix become a sanctuary city will show up for the February 15 City Council meeting and express their support.

“We’re looking to make sure our community’s concerns are being heard,” she said.