The House voted April 13 along party lines to approve an immigration bill that will significantly change the way local law-enforcement agencies pursue those who are in the country illegally.
The Senate must now approve amendments made to S1070, before it will be transmitted to Gov. Jan Brewer for a signature.
The bill’s supporters say it will “take the handcuffs off our law enforcement agents” by ending the sanctuary-city policies that shield illegal immigrants from law enforcement, and by creating a new state trespass law that applies to anyone in violation of federal immigration status.
Several lawmakers took time to explain their support or opposition to the bill during the third read, pointing to fixes the bill received recently or the particulars that could potentially cause problems in the future.
Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, called the bill a red herring, saying that the real solution to the problem of illegal immigration rests with federal immigration policy and increased border security.
“This bill does nothing,” Campbell said.
Declarations of support for the bill ranged from cautious to laudatory.
Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, disagreed with Campbell, saying the fights against illegal immigration must be waged on three fronts: Border security has to be increased, jobs and benefits must not be available and internal enforcement must be ratcheted up.
Kavanagh said S1070 is a major achievement in internal enforcement.
Those opposing Sen. Russell Pearce’s immigration crackdown bill listed their concerns earlier in the day on the Capitol lawn, just hours before the House was slated to debate and vote on the bill.
The Arizona Interfaith Network, a group of local clergy, and the Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform (AZEIR) pointed out the problems they saw in the bill, highlighting the precarious position this puts law enforcement and local governments into, as well as what they see as a disregard for humanitarian rights.
David Selden, an employment attorney, said the fundamental problems with the bill are that police throughout Arizona will have to abide by a policy of racial profiling, at the risk of bringing lawsuits to his or her agency.
“The only real winners here will be the lawyers,” Selden said of the bill’s impact.
Sheridan Bailey of AZEIR said the bill would put Arizona in uncharted territory for immigration law, and said the results will be disasterous on a personal and community level.
“This community is not a laboratory for experimental immigration law and social engineering ideas,” Bailey said.
Bailey said the immigration bills Pearce has authored over the years rely on mob rule and intimidation to rally support. He went on to read a psychological profile of Hitler from the 1940s, and asked whether it reminded the crowd of “certain politicians” in the legislature.
“All it takes is six moderate Republicans to stand up to this bill,” Bailey said.
Connie Andersen, a representative of the Arizona Interfaith Network, said later that her organization does not support the statements of Mr. Bailey regarding Hitler or social engineering.