Arizona Legislature Advances Tough Immigration Bill
The Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that puts the state within reach of having some of the toughest immigration laws in the country.
FOX News provides an explainer on select provisions of Arizona Senate bill 1070:
– Create a new state misdemeanor crime of willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration document.
– Allow officers to arrest immigrants unable to show documents proving they’re legally in the country.
– Ban so-called soft immigration policies at local police agencies and allow people to sue if they feel a government agency has adopted a policy that hinders the enforcement of illegal immigration laws.
– Prohibit people from blocking traffic when they seek or offer day-labor services on street corners.
– Make it illegal for people to transport illegal immigrants if the drivers of vehicles know their passengers are in the country illegally and if the transportation furthers their illegal presence in the country.
The provision is designed to target law enforcement policies that prevent officers from asking people about their immigration status, but opponents worry it will make victims and witnesses scared to work with police and prosecutors.
The bill, introduced by state Sen. Russell Pearce, would give an unprecedented amount of immigration enforcement power to local police officers — something that has divided groups in Arizona.
From the Los Angeles Times:
…police were deeply divided on the matter, with police unions backing it but the state police chief’s association opposing the bill, contending it could erode trust with immigrants who could be potential witnesses.
Immigrant rights groups were horrified, and contended that Arizona would be transformed into a police state.
“It’s beyond the pale,” said Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. “It appears to mandate racial profiling.”
During the debate, the bill managed to win support from some state senators who expressed misgivings about the legislation.
One of the bill’s provisions is to prevent “sanctuary cities” from not enforcing immigration laws, and Republican state Rep. Russ Jones said he couldn’t think of one sanctuary city in the state. “I don’t see this as a problem, and I wonder what we’re fixing,” he said. Nonetheless, he voted for it.
A similar supportive vote came from Republican Rep. Lucy Mason, who said the bill doesn’t focus on where it needs to: the border.
This bill could represent a reaction by Republicans to border violence, in the wake of the recent death of an Arizona rancher who is believed to have been killed by an illegal immigrant or a drug smuggler. His death has gotten attention from both the media and lawmakers looking ahead to the November elections with promises of stronger border security.
And given recent comments from Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.) about the rancher’s death, this bill looks likely to become law.
The text of the House version is nearly identical to a Senate bill approved in February, but changes were made to create a prosecution exemption for people who drive illegal immigrants to church or who provide emergency services, according to a Phoenix Business Journal article.