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Immigration bills are ‘dead’ — for now

(From left) Sens. Lori Klein, Russell Pearce, Al Melvin and Steve Smith watch March 17 as five anti-immigration bills fail on the Senate floor. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

(From left) Sens. Lori Klein, Russell Pearce, Al Melvin and Steve Smith watch as five anti-immigration bills they all vociferously supported fail on the Senate floor March 17. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

Supporters of the five controversial immigration measures that the Senate killed on Thursday made no attempt to revive the measures on Monday.

As a result, the bills are dead — but the ideas may still be resurrected.

Under the chamber’s rules, backers had until today to ask the Senate to reconsider the defeat of the measures, which include a proposal that supporters said is aimed at asking the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the issue of American citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants.

The bills could technically still be brought up for another vote, but the entire chamber would have to consent to the vote, a standard that is virtually impossible to achieve.

Despite that, the proposals included in those bills could still be voted on again. Backers may be able to revive them through strike-everything amendments, which essentially change one piece of legislation to something entirely different.

They also could look to include the proposals in the budget.

But even if that were to happen, the bills would still run into the same wall of opposition.

The backers’ decision to not revive the five bills today is a clear admission of defeat.

“I don’t think there’s — really, to be honest with you — anything you could do immediately to revive it and fix it,” said Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, referring to SB1407, a bill he sponsored that would have required the Arizona Department of Education to collect data about students who cannot prove their lawful presence in the United States. That bill also requires the department to research the “adverse impact” of these students’ enrollment as well as provide for an estimate of the cost of educating them.

But Smith’s reading of the situation might as well apply to the other four measures.

While Senate President Russell Pearce maintains that nothing is ever dead until the Legislature wraps up its work for the year, he would need five more votes to pass his omnibus immigration measure. That bill would have, among other things, denied illegal immigrants access to such public benefits as operating or titling vehicles, enrolling in community colleges and receiving medical aid.

Pearce’s bill, SB1611, failed by a vote of 11-19, and persuading five legislators to change their mind is a particularly high hurdle to overcome for such an emotional subject.

Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, author of the birthright citizenship bills, SB1308 and SB1309, also acknowledged that getting four to five legislators to flip their votes and support the measures would be tough.

In a floor speech, Gould said the bills’ failure is disheartening.

“You have to wonder sometimes why are conservatives still members of the Republican Party,” he said, adding there is a big push for conservatives to leave the party.

Should that happen, Gould said the Republican Party would lose elections in the next 30 years.

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