FILE - ICE protester in Tucson, Arizona

An ICE protester holds a sign in Tucson, Arizona.

A lawsuit filed against city of Tucson officials seeks to block a ballot initiative that will ask voters to adopt sanctuary city measures.

The lawsuit was filed Friday by the Pima County Republican Party and lists three Tucson residents as plaintiffs. Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, City Clerk Roger Randolph, city council members, and several Pima County officials are listed as defendants. 

The lawsuit alleges that the petition to get the initiative on the November ballot did not meet the state’s constitutional requirements, and therefore the mayor and city council cannot allow for the initiative to be put on the ballot.

The Pima County Recorder’s Office certified 12,488 signatures, but attorneys for the plaintiffs argue that 12,821 signatures are required to get the initiative on the ballot, citing state law.

“Petitioners failed to submit sufficient valid signatures for the Initiative to be submitted to the Mayor and City Council for possible inclusion on the November 5, 2019, general election ballot,” the lawsuit said.

The sanctuary city initiative, which is backed by the progressive group People’s Defense Initiative, would in part prohibit local law enforcement from working with federal agencies on immigration cases. 

David Eppihimer, chairman of the Pima County GOP, told The Center Square in an email, “We are pressing this suit to save Tucson from itself. It's a serious economic and public safety crisis coming if this were to pass, and we believe that despite no support for it from the current city administration and open opposition from Police Chief Magnus, Tucson voters cannot be trusted to reject this proposal.”

Magnus opposed the initiative in a Sunday op-ed, warning of the “potential unintended consequences that come with this proposed sanctuary city initiative.”

Joel Feinman, who’s listed as an interested party in the lawsuit and is an organizer behind the initiative, told The Arizona Daily Star, “I think the GOP is doing us a favor – I think they are showing how ideologically corrupt they are.”

City Attorney Mike Rankin confirmed to the Daily Star that the city will defend the signature numbers in court.

Regional Editor

Derek Draplin is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as an opinion producer at Forbes, and as a reporter at Michigan Capitol Confidential and The Detroit News. He’s also an editor at The Daily Caller.