After two weeks, hundreds of calls and e-mails, more than six hours of public comment and one unusual procedural maneuver, the Tacoma City Council approved a divisive measure Tuesday to oppose Arizona's controversial law cracking down on illegal immigration.
The council's action on the resolution, in its second go-around before the panel, came on a 5-3 vote with one member abstaining. It approved a symbolic statement opposing the Southwest state's law.
"That's what this resolution is about; we're saying we don't want Arizona's approach to this (issue) here in our home," said Councilwoman Lauren Walker, who co-sponsored the measure with Councilman Ryan Mello.
Mayor Marilyn Strickland, who was out of town last week when the council first considered the measure, returned this week to cast the deciding vote for its approval.
"Tonight's resolution is not a call to boycott; it's a call to conscience," Strickland said. She added that the Arizona law lends itself to racial profiling and added that allowing such a discriminatory law to stand "is about the most un-American thing we can do."
Tacoma's resolution describes Arizona's law — so called SB 1070 — as encouraging racial profiling and violating constitutional guarantees of due process. It states that America's "immigration system is broken," supports "comprehensive federal immigration reform," and says the Arizona law will "jeopardize public safety."
But the practical effects of the measure are limited, in part because Mello and Walker sought to remove language calling for a city boycott on business and travel to the state. Mello explained the boycott was too divisive and distracted from the measure's true intentions — "to focus squarely on race and racial profiling issues."
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