By David Schwartz
PHOENIX (Reuters) - The Phoenix City Council on Wednesday rejected a bid to declare the large southwestern U.S. municipality a "sanctuary city" despite vocal cries to protect undocumented immigrants.
By a 7-2 vote, council members turned down a citizen's petition requesting the nation's sixth largest city declare itself a sanctuary city and limit their assistance to federal immigration authorities.
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The council's decision comes just weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order that directed the U.S. government to withhold money from cities that have adopted sanctuary policies toward undocumented immigrants.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, who presides over the council, said the legislation would violate a state law signed in 2010 by then-Arizona Governor Jan Brewer that allows police to question people they stop about their immigration status.
Before the vote, Stanton said the parts of the 2010 law that "govern and mandate a certain level of interaction and cooperation with federal immigration authorities [...] were upheld unanimously," by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The nine-member council did decide to seek legal advice at a later date to determine whether the city could challenge the state law, however.
San Francisco, a prominent sanctuary city, filed a lawsuit last month challenging Trump's executive order, calling it unconstitutional.
Other jurisdictions that describe themselves as sanctuary cities or offer some protection to undocumented immigrants include Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Seattle and Washington.
The Phoenix council vote was met with chants with cries of "Shame on you" by activists who remained in the council chambers after the raucous meeting.
"What we care (about) is that our families remain together and the only way to do that is to move quickly and to not collaborate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement," said Carlos Garcia, director of immigrant advocacy group Puente Arizona.
Supporters highlighted the recent case of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos to buttress their position.
The Arizona mother of two American teenage children who had been living in the United States for more than 20 years was deported last week to Mexico, in what critics claimed was an early example of Trump's promised crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
(Reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix; Editing by Curtis Skinner and Sandra Maler)