Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is refusing to wave off legislators from taking up the contentious issue of illegal immigration again.
Dozens of Arizona business leaders have asked lawmakers to refrain from further action on illegal immigration, saying passage of additional legislation could damage the state’s economy and tourism.
The Senate is poised to consider five illegal immigration bills Thursday and Brewer was asked beforehand about the business leaders’ concerns.
“I believe that illegal immigration is an important subject to the populace of Arizona and is something that probably needs to be further addressed,” Brewer told reporters.
She added that she hadn’t reviewed the bills and didn’t yet have a position on them.
Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa., said the chamber would both debate and vote on the bills.
The measures deal with citizenship, health care, public services and everyday activities ranging from hiring to driving.
Brewer last year signed into law sweeping legislation on local law enforcement of immigration laws. That measure, known as SB1070, generated protests, boycotts and legal challenges that resulted in key provisions being put on hold by a federal judge.
Dozens of CEOs of major employers and business groups signed a letter distributed Wednesday by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, saying that passage of additional legislation on illegal immigration would damage the economy and tourism.
Arizona should instead push for federal action on immigration and border issues, according to the letter signed by heads of construction companies, hospitals, real estate developers and US Airways.
“Arizona’s lawmakers and citizens are right to be concerned about illegal immigration,” the letter said. “But we must acknowledge that when Arizona goes it alone on this issue, unintended consequences inevitably occur.”
One of the new measures is a wide-ranging bill sponsored by Pearce, who sponsored SB1070.
Pearce’s new bill would make it harder for illegal immigrants to live, work and get an education in Arizona.
It would require the parents of students at K-12 schools to prove the citizenship of their children, bar illegal immigrants from attending public universities and prohibit illegal immigrants from driving in the state.
It also would require the eviction of public housing tenants who let illegal immigrants live with them and make applicants for vehicle titles and registration prove they are in the country legally.
Under the bill, it also would be a crime for illegal immigrants to drive in Arizona, and it would suspend business licenses of employers who purposely ignore a state mandate to use a federal identification database to check new hires’ eligibility.
Two bills would set new criteria to get Arizona birth certificates and form a compact with other states, both in an attempt to force a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on whether U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants are entitled to automatic citizenship.
A separate bill would require hospitals to check the immigration status of patients who can’t provide proof of health insurance.
Hospitals would be required to immediately report patients who can’t verify their legal presence in the U.S. to federal authorities or local police.
Senate passage of the bills would send them to the House.