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Texas-inspired border measure gets first approval

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A Senate committee approved a ballot referral Wednesday that would allow local police to arrest people entering the country illegally — despite concerns from Democrats that the move would enable racial profiling. The measure is a direct attempt by legislative Republicans to curtail Gov. Katie Hobbs’ veto.

HCR2060 is a reflection of legislative language that Hobbs has already rejected this session, alongside a wave of new immigration-related changes that GOP lawmakers say are necessary because of the failure of the federal government.

“The bill I vetoed earlier this year lacked the support of businesses, farmers and law enforcement in border communities,” Hobbs said in a written statement. “This ballot initiative will not secure our border. Instead, it will put Arizona business owners out of business, eliminate jobs, and prevent law enforcement from keeping our communities safe. Arizona should not pay the price for the federal government’s inaction.”

Coined the “Secure Borders Act,” the referendum would specifically make it illegal to enter the state from Mexico except from a legal port of entry. However, it does include a provision that would drop misdemeanor charges for illegal entry — if the person agrees to be removed from the country and not return.

Additionally, the 10-page proposal would require agencies to use E-verify to verify the citizenship of their employees if they are receiving benefits, criminalize falsifying documents to an employer who claims you are a citizen and make sales of fentanyl a class 2 felony. a person and cause their death.

Republican lawmakers supporting this voter-protected immigration legislation are taking direct inspiration from SB4, a Texas law currently under litigation before the Supreme Court over its constitutionality. This is reflected in legislative language that would allow the measure to become enforceable only after the Texas law has been in effect for 60 days.

Democratic lawmakers largely opposed the measure. On top of that, some said it would return the state to the “show me your papers” days evoked by the passage of SB1070 more than 14 years ago. Additionally, some business owners and activists said the proposal would have a significant impact on the state’s economy.

“The strike-style amendment to HCR2060, proposed by Senator Gowan – who 14 years ago was a primary sponsor of SB1070 – will allow local and state police to prevent and detain respectful citizens of the law that would prevent them from going to work, from going to temple and church or from simply dreaming. go to school,” said Sen. Flavio Bravo, D-Phoenix. “If my Republican colleagues were honest, they would tell you that this is an unfunded mandate for our already understaffed law enforcement and that the cost of implementing a measure like this -this would fall largely or almost entirely to towns and villages. »

Sen. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, disagrees that the measure is similar to SB1070. He said previously passed immigration legislation is different from the proposed ballot measure because it does not allow law enforcement to ask suspected illegal immigrants to “show them their papers.”

“Doing nothing is not an option,” Petersen said.

Bravo said he was disappointed in GOP lawmakers for circumventing legislative procedures to “rush through a referral to the ballot.”

Sheriffs came out in support of the measure during its committee hearing Wednesday.

Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, a candidate for U.S. Senate, testified in favor of the ballot proposal, and he said police officers would only be allowed to make arrests if they found reasonable suspicion proving that ‘a person entered the country illegally. Rep. Analise Ortiz, D-Phoenix, asked him how they were going to put this law into practice.

Yavapai County Sheriff David Rhodes spoke in favor of the legislation, but made clear he was unsure of the specific impact of implementing the law in terms of enforcement or financing.

“In the sheriff’s opinion, probable cause looks like this: something like eyewitness testimony of people crossing the border without going to a port of entry, something like technology that indicates people crossing the border without get to a point of entry,” he said.

He said that from the sheriff’s perspective, the measure is a “border bill” that would not allow racial profiling. This measure would allow law enforcement to direct all such traffic to official ports of entry for legal border crossing,” Rhodes said.

“If this goes to the ballot and they pass it, then there are going to be a lot of details to work out,” Rhodes continued. “There are even provisions in the bill before you that probably need to be tweaked.”

The committee hearing moved forward more than three hours of deliberations. At one point, ACLU Rep. Marilyn Rodriguez and Rep. Alexander Kolodin, R-Scottsdale, got into a heated argument over the constitutionality of the legislation.

“By combining language from several failed immigration proposals, HCR2060 seeks to push through divisive measures rather than real solutions,” said Sen. Rosanna Gabaldon, D-Green Valley. “Instead of fostering bipartisan collaboration, HCR2060 demonstrates bipartisan politics at its worst. »

Sen. David Gowan, Republican of Sierra Vista, closed the hearing by reiterating that the measure would primarily seek to “codify federal law.” That will give lawmakers the tools they need to secure the border, he said.

“I know we have a difference of opinion here, and that’s why we’re going to let the citizens decide,” Gowan said.

Notably, the referral contains a paragraph that would allow minority and majority leaders of both chambers to legally intervene if the law is challenged in court.

The measure passed the Senate Military Affairs, Public Safety and Border Security Committee on a 4-3 vote along party lines. The postponement of the ballot will get its final vote in the Senate on May 15. If passed, it will be sent to the House. The proposal does not need the governor’s approval because it would go before voters in November.