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Ann Arbor City Council adopts resolution opposing Arizona's controversial new immigration law
Ann Arbor became the first Michigan city to go on record opposing Arizona's controversial new immigration law when the City Council adopted a resolution tonight in a 9-1 vote.
That resolution opposes Arizona's Senate Bill 1070, which has caused nationalcontroversy since it was signed into law in April. The local vote came just hours after the U.S. government filed a federal lawsuit against Arizona to stop the law from taking effect in three weeks.
Council Members Sabra Briere, right, and Sandi Smith convinced their peers on council to approve a resolution Tuesday night urging repeal of Arizona's controversial immigration law.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.comFederal lawyers claim the law encroaches on the federal responsibility for immigration enforcement and say Arizona has crossed a constitutional line. The Arizona law would require police to question the immigration status of suspects when there is reasonable suspicion they are in the country illegally.
"Certainly I'm in agreement with what is before us tonight," Mayor John Hieftje said in offering his support for the resolution.
Council Member Tony Derezinski, D-2nd Ward, noted that anyone who looks around the council table will see a lot of "curious names" like his own, and Hieftje, Hohnke and Rapundalo.
"This is an immigrant nation. We are all immigrants," Derezinski said.
The resolution was sponsored by Council Members Sabra Briere and Sandi Smith, both Democrats from the 1st Ward.
Council Member Stephen Rapundalo, D-2nd Ward, was the only one to oppose it. He said he didn't like the Arizona law, but didn't believe it was a matter that warranted council action.
"This really is not an issue for the City Council at the moment," he said. "We really do have more pressing issues to be dealing with at this moment, which are our roads and our budget issues."
A native of Canada, Rapundalo noted he is an immigrant to the United States.
The federal government claims the Arizona measure threatens to give rise to a "patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country" prohibited by federal law.
A community coalition led by the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrants Rights urged passage of the resolution tonight, saying Ann Arbor could send a message to other municipalities across the country that racism won't be tolerated.
Other supporters at the meeting came from groups like the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, the University of Michigan, One Michigan, the Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission, the local Latino community, the Ann Arbor Workers Center, Michigan Peaceworks and Reform Immigration for America.
Several people spoke on the issue, and dozens more watched from the sidelines, cheering and applauding as the resolution passed.
“This is an issue of fairness and safety for all of our communities,” Margaret Harner of the Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrants Rights said in a statement. “The Arizona law endorses racial profiling, and it hurts public safety. Police should be spending their time protecting neighborhoods, not chasing around immigrant workers, families and students. I’m glad that Ann Arbor stood up for civil rights today, because this misguided law in Arizona could very easily come to Michigan.”