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In the face of mounting economic pressure, Tucson became the first city to approve a legal challenge to Arizona’s controversial new immigration law that requires local police to verify the status of those they “reasonably suspect” are here illegally.

The City Council voted 5-1 Tuesday to sue the state to overturn SB 1070, with only Councilman Steve Kozachik voting no. City Attorney Mike Rankin said the city hasn’t decided the timing for suing to block the law, which doesn’t take effect until the end of July. Later Tuesday, the Flagstaff City Council voted to sue to stop SB 1070 from going into effect.

Tucson Councilwoman Regina Romero said the city’s lawsuit will not cost taxpayers money, which is a key for a city facing a $33 million revenue shortfall next year.

Romero said the challenge would be filed by the city’s in-house lawyers, and they would obtain outside counsel from other cities, counties and other entities without incurring additional costs or attorney’s fees.

The new law is bad for the economy, could subject the city of Tucson to lawsuits and is unconstitutional, Romero said, adding “a legal challenge is the logical next step.” She said the law encouraged racial profiling.

Mayor Bob Walkup said the law is based on a misguided notion illegal immigrants are bad for the area’s quality of life and economy. “Frankly, I don’t believe that’s true,” Walkup said.

Much of Tucson’s economy is derived from Mexican tourists who come here to vacation and shop, Walkup said.

Kozachik said he voted no because we “need to de-escalate the conversation” and a lawsuit doesn’t do that. He said the council needs to focus on its job.

“Is 1070 flawed? Sure,” Kozachik said. “We need to focus this body on what this body is supposed to be doing.”

He said there’s blame to go around for opponents of the law as well, singling out Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., who called for an economic boycott of the state. Kozachik said that amounted “kicking the low-income people in the state in the teeth.”

The solid support to sue the state is in sharp contrast to a week ago when the council went into closed-door session and didn’t take action. Several days after that meeting, three council members – Romero, Karin Uhlich and Richard Fimbres – announced their support for a lawsuit. They were unable to attract a fourth vote at that time.

After a week of demonstrations and being at the top of the national news agenda, however, the pendulum appears to have swung.

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