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‘Trespassing’ removed from bill at Brewer aide’s insistence

After years of watching his anti-illegal-immigration bills crumble in a heap of vetoes, Sen. Russell Pearce took steps this time to ensure that S1070 would pass muster with Gov. Jan Brewer.

The Mesa Republican met multiple times with Richard Bark, Brewer’s deputy chief of staff for policy, and her deputy general counsel, Christy Myers Smith, to go over the language in S1070 to make sure there was nothing in the bill the governor couldn’t live with.

“We went through everything in the bill, went through line-by-line in the bill. And we didn’t agree to every single issue, but where it was germane and they had some good suggestions they worked well with me,” Pearce said. “They liked the bill.”

Brewer kept completely silent on S1070 while it was debated in the Legislature, and the Governor’s Office would not comment on the bill. But Pearce said the Governor’s Office raised an objection to the provision that makes illegal immigrants’ presence in Arizona a trespassing crime.

That objection led the House to remove the word “trespassing” from the title and language of the section that makes illegal immigrants guilty of trespassing, which Pearce referred to as a cosmetic change. The new language, which the bill still adds to the trespassing section in the Arizona Revised Statutes, redefines the crime as failure to carry an alien registration document. The provision mirrors language in federal immigration statutes.

“It’s referred to the way the federal law referred to it. They thought it would just be better to stay with the federal language, so I said, ‘That’s fine with me,’” Pearce said.

Given the number of Pearce’s illegal immigration bills that were vetoed by former Gov. Janet Napolitano, getting Brewer on board was critical. Rep. John Kavanagh, who took an active role in promoting S1070, said replacing the Democrat Napolitano with the Republican Brewer was one of the keys to ending the years-long fight over sanctuary city policies.

“(It was) a very slow effort, one that was initially hampered by Governor Napolitano and her vetoes, but one which was won … with a governor who is more supportive of anti-illegal immigration measures” said Kavanagh, a Fountain Hills Republican.

Some described the Governor’s Office as essentially taking an advisory role in the crafting of S1070, reviewing the language to make sure there was nothing that would force an objection from Brewer. Rep. Andy Biggs, who took a lead role in getting S1070 passed in the House, said there was a collaborative effort between Pearce and the Governor’s Office.

“They had really parsed the bill pretty thoroughly. They knew what they wanted to see in that bill,” said Biggs, a Republican from Gilbert. “They did make a suggestion here or there.”

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