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Senate approves ‘Grant’s Law’ but votes down sanctuary cities measure

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Invoking the name of a convenience mart clerk shot to death, the state Senate voted Monday to require those not here legally who are convinced of certain crimes to serve their full sentences without the chance of parole.

But they quashed two other measures aimed at illegal immigration.

In a surprise move, the Senate refused to approve legislation that would have financially penalized cities and counties that the attorney general determined offer “sanctuary” to those in the country illegally. The move came despite a last-minute plea from Senate President Andy Biggs who said local governments should be required to comply with the laws and policies enacted by the Legislature.

They also defeated a separate measure that would have prohibited local governments from issuing identification cards unless applicants could produce certain documents — documents not generally available to those who are here illegally.

But the sponsors of both measures still have the chance to try to change some minds and resurrect both of them.

The measure that was approved, SB1377, was dubbed “Grant’s Law” by Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa.

That is for Grant Ronnebeck, who was working the graveyard shift at a Mesa convenience store in January 2015 when he was shot, apparently for not giving someone his cigarettes fast enough. According to police, the man arrested was in the country illegally, had been convicted of burglary in 2012 and was placed on probation. A judge had ordered immigration officials notified of his conviction.

SB1377, approved on a 19-11 vote, says if someone is in the country illegally and commits a crime under certain circumstances, that person must be sentenced to prison for the full term allowed. Those conditions range from use of a weapon and committing a crime for financial purposes to whether the victim was a senior citizen.

Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix, said there’s no reason to single out people not in this country legally for special treatment.

“It doesn’t serve to further protect our community,” he said. “It only serves to make a political point.”

Quezada and others had better luck blocking SB1378.

This measure, also sponsored by Smith, was designed to block the state treasurer from giving any shared revenue dollars to any “sanctuary city.”

Smith’s legislation defined that as providing any “public benefits” without first getting proof of citizenship or lawful presence. That requirement for both state and local governments was approved by voters in 2004.

A community also could wind up losing funds if it has any policy to “limit or restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.”

Sen. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix, said Arizona is finally recovering from all the negative publicity surrounding SB1070. That 2010 law was designed to require police to check the immigration status of those who they stopped.

“We’re jeopardizing our economy,” she told colleagues. “We’re sending a message to Mexico,” she said, even as the state seeks to improve trade relations with that country.

Smith, however, said this has nothing to do with trade or foreign relations.

“This is not an anti-immigrant bill,” he said. “It may be an anti-illegal immigrant bill.”

And he said it is the result of “failed border security” by the federal government.

“It says if you are a municipality or a city in this state and you do something that is contrary to the state law, in other words, you nakedly and openly and willingly violate what is written in state law, you’re going to get a penalty.”

And he said local governments should not be able to ignore the statutes.

“What kind of system of justice is that?” Smith asked.

The Senate also narrowly defeated SB1017.

It is aimed mainly at the city of Phoenix, which is considering whether to issue municipal ID cards to residents. Proponents say those cards will make it easier for those people to get certain services as well as have dealings with police.

But Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, called it an invitation to fraud.

He said there’s nothing wrong if cities issue cards based on some primary identification like a birth certificate or passport. But Kavanagh said government-issued cards are the “gold standards for identification” and should not be issued just because someone might have an employee ID card.

“Anybody can go home in today’s computer world and forge (one) on their own home computer,” he said.

“This will allow anyone to assume a new identity and have a government-issued photo ID card to back it up,” Kavanagh continued. “This is asking for identity theft.”

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