“We’ll have less crime. We’ll have lower taxes. We’ll have safer neighborhoods. We’ll have shorter lines in the emergency rooms. We’ll have smaller classrooms,” the Mesa Republican said on the Senate floor on April 19.
The bill passed on a near party-line vote, 17-11. Sen. Carolyn Allen, a Republican from Scottsdale, was the only Republican to vote against the bill.
S1070 is one of the most comprehensive immigration measures that has ever passed the Arizona Legislature; it includes several elements of measures sponsored by Pearce in previous sessions.
The bill, if signed by the governor, would require local law enforcement officers to verify the legal status of anyone they suspect might be in the country illegally, and it would allow trespassing charges to be brought against all illegal immigrants. The bill also would provide grounds for anyone to file a lawsuit against a local government that is not enforcing laws to prevent illegal immigration.
Democrats who oppose the bill made a final stand before the Senate vote, raising concerns about racial profiling, unnecessary lawsuits and less cooperation from witnesses of crimes.
Sen. Linda Lopez, a Democrat from Tucson, said the bill represents a path toward a police state. She also reminded fellow senators that today’s date is the anniversary of a tragic event that should offer perspective to the bill.
“Fifteen years ago today, April 19, was the Oklahoma City bombing,” Lopez said. “Many people died. Many people were injured. Let me ask a question: Would Timothy McVeigh have been asked his immigration status?”
Sen. Rebecca Rios, a Democrat from Apache Junction, said S1070 will scare illegal immigrants who have information about a crime from reporting the criminal activity. She pointed to an example often used by those who disagree with her on immigration issues.
“The child serial rapist in Chandler, there were many people who indicated after the fact that this rapist probably would have been caught sooner if not for the fact that people in that community were afraid to report him,” Rios said. “This is what is going to continue to happen.”
Sen. Paula Aboud, a Democrat from Tucson, said the residents of her district have made it clear to her that they are “deathly afraid” of S1070.
Sen. John Huppenthal, a Republican from Chandler who voted for the bill, said low-income minorities would benefit most by its passage, because people who match those demographics are most often the targets of crimes by illegal immigrants.
Pearce did say during his defense of S1070 that the Sept. 11 terrorist attack would have been prevented if the tenets of S1070 had been the law at the time. And with regard to claims that the bill would lead to racial profiling, Pearce said it contained protections from profiling.
“Illegal is a crime, not a race,” Pearce said.