Published: May 05, 2010 10:40 AM EDT

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - The Tucson and Flagstaff city councils

voted Tuesday to sue Arizona over its tough new immigration law,

citing concerns about enforcement costs and negative effects on the

state's tourism industry.

They are the first municipalities in Arizona to approve legal

challenges to the law. Earlier this week, proposed litigation in

Phoenix took a hit when the city attorney said Mayor Phil Gordon

lacks the authority to file suit without the support of the City


The new state law requires local and state law enforcement

officers to question people about their immigration status if there

is reason to suspect they're in the country illegally.

The Flagstaff City Council voted unanimously in favor of a

resolution that says it's an unfunded mandate to carry out the

responsibilities of the federal government. Its Tuesday night

meeting drew a crowd that initially numbered in the hundreds but

dwindled significantly as the night wore on.

The council will retain legal counsel and could either pursue

its own lawsuit or join Tuscon or other cities in efforts to fight

the immigration bill.

It also is considering setting up a legal defense fund to which

many in the audience said they would contribute.

"This new bill has the power to make a criminal out of me for

helping my family and friends," said Flagstaff resident Loretta

Velasco. "I will not turn my back on them, so whatever I can do, I

will do."

The few who spoke in favor of the immigration measure urged the

council to let someone else bear the cost of fighting it, and said

the law had nothing to do with racial profiling.

Roger Boone said most people agree the immigration system is

broken but a "race to the courts" is irresponsible.

"If Tucson is saying in a 5-1 vote it is filing, let them spend

their money," he said.

Flagstaff is struggling with a $12.8 million budget shortfall

this fiscal year, and city staff has been cut by 14 percent,

including the loss of 13 police positions.

Mayor Sara Presler said she realizes each lawsuit Flagstaff

faces for either enforcing or failing to enforce the immigration

measure could cost the city in roads, police officers or staff. But

she said it's better to be proactive than reactive.

Earlier Tuesday, the Tucson City Council approved a resolution

to sue the state, with Councilman Steve Kozachik casting the lone

no vote, The Arizona Republic newspaper reported.

Kozachik said he agrees the law is flawed but thinks Arizona

needs to "de-escalate the conversation" and filing a lawsuit is

not the way.

Other council members argued the cost to enforce the new

immigration law will be overly excessive.

Mayor Bob Walkup said the law is based on a misguided notion

that illegal immigrants are bad for the area's quality of life and

economy. He said much of Tucson's economy is derived from Mexican

tourists who come to vacation and shop, the Republic reported.

In Phoenix, the mayor had said he would proceed with a legal

challenge to the law after failing to gather enough support from

the City Council. But a legal opinion issued Monday by Phoenix City

Attorney Gary Verburg said only the City Council has the power to

authorize lawsuits.

Four lawsuits challenging the law were filed last week by the

National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, a

Washington-based researcher who plans to visit Arizona and two

police officers, one from Phoenix and the other from Tucson. The

officers filed the lawsuit as individuals and weren't challenging

the law on behalf of their employers.