Initial filings have been made proposing two separate ballot measures on Arizona’s tough new law cracking down on illegal immigration, but there’s no immediate indication that either has enough backing to reach the ballot.
A referendum filing Tuesday proposes a public vote on keeping or repealing the law. An initiative filing Monday proposes repealing most of the law, changing one part and temporarily prohibiting legislators from enacting new laws related to immigration status.
Qualifying the referendum for the Nov. 2 ballot requires filing at least 76,682 voter signatures by July 28, while qualifying the initiative requires filing 153,365 voter signatures by July 1.
“That’s going to be a real challenge,” acknowledged the Rev. John Auther, a Catholic priest heading the initiative effort.
Auther said he’s working on it with other individuals belonging to a small prayer group but does not have church backing. “It will have to be a grassroots thing.”
The man proposing the referendum, Brandon Slayton of Phoenix, didn’t immediately return a call for comment. That filing, which listed Slayton as both chairman and treasurer of the effort, said simply that it demands “a vote by the people” on the law.
The law’s provisions include a requirement that police enforcing another law determine a person’s immigration status if there’s a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the United States illegally. It also makes being in the country illegally a state crime.
Supporters of the law say it will benefit the state and its taxpayers by encouraging illegal immigrants to “self-deport” themselves out of the country, but Auther said the law treats illegal immigrants too harshly.
“I guess I just can’t imagine saying to 500,000 people ‘we don’t want you here, you’ve got to move and leave,'” Auther said. “I don’t think any of the good people of history would have ever done that.”
A moratorium on future legislation would provide Arizona with a cooling-off period, he said.
Two previous referendum campaigns against the immigration law were abandoned, one because backers weren’t confident they could win the issue in November. The other was scrapped because its backers feared voter support for the law would trigger constitutional protections and prevent future changes by lawmakers.