2024 election: Arizona voters to decide whether local police can make border arrests

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona’s Republican-controlled Legislature gave final approval Tuesday to a proposal asking voters to make entering the state through Mexico a state crime any place other than a point of entry for non-citizens, sending the measure to November. . 5 rounds.

The vote came as President Joe Biden unveiled his plans Tuesday for restrict the number of migrants seeking asylum on the U.S.-Mexico border, saying “this action will help take control of our border and restore order in the process.”

The Arizona proposal, approved by a 31-29 vote in the House of Representatives, would allow state and local police to arrest people crossing the border without authorization. It would also give state judges the power to order people convicted of this offense to return to their home countries.

The proposal bypasses Democratic government. Katie Hobbs, who had Vetoed a similar measure early March and denounced the effort to bring the issue to the voters.

Hobbs spoke out against approving the bill, saying, “Extremists within the Legislature have chosen to prioritize their political agendas over finding real solutions. »

She said the legislation will “hurt Arizona businesses, send jobs out of state, make it harder for law enforcement to do their jobs and blow the state budget.” This will not secure our border.

House Republicans closed access to the House upper gallery before the session began Tuesday, citing concerns about security and possible disruptions. The move immediately drew criticism from Democrats, who demanded the gallery reopen.

House representatives voted along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor of the proposal and all Democrats voting against.

Supporters of the bill said it was necessary to ensure security along the state’s southern border and that Arizona voters should have the opportunity to decide the issue for themselves.

“When the federal government fails, the state must step up,” the state representative said. Timothy Dunn, a Republican who grew up in Yuma, Arizona, near the border with Mexico.

Opponents called the legislation unconstitutional and said it would lead to racial profiling and create several million dollars in additional political costs that Arizona cities, counties and states can ill afford.

State Representative. Analize Ortiz, a Democrat whose family has lived in the United States for generations, said that under the law, “my brown skin could allow a police officer to arrest me if suspicious in the state where I was born.”

The proposal is similar to a Texas law that was stayed by a federal appeals court while it was challenged.

While federal law already prohibits the unauthorized entry of migrants into the United States, supporters of the measure say it is necessary because the federal government has not done enough to prevent people from crossing the vast and porous Arizona border with Mexico. They also said some people who enter Arizona without authorization are committing identity theft and taking advantage of government benefits.

Opponents say the proposal would impose new costs on the state from law enforcement with no experience in immigration law, and harm Arizona’s reputation in the business world.

But advocates brushed aside those concerns, saying local officers should still develop probable cause to stop people entering Arizona between ports of entry.

Supporters also say the measure focuses only on the state’s border region and that, unlike Arizona’s landmark 2010 immigration law, it does not target people statewide. State. Opponents point out that the proposal does not contain geographic limits where it can be applied.

The ballot proposal contains other provisions that are not included in the Texas measure and are not directly related to immigration. These include making it a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison for the sale of fentanyl resulting in the death of a person, and requiring certain government agencies to use a base of federal data to verify a non-citizen’s eligibility for benefits.

Warning of possible legal costs, opponents pointed to Arizona’s 2005 immigrant smuggling ban, used by Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to conduct 20 large-scale highway patrols targeting immigrants . This led to a racial profiling verdict in 2013 and taxpayer-funded legal and compliance costs that now total $265 million and are expected to reach $314 million by July 2025.

Under the current proposal, a first conviction under the border crossing provision would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison. State judges could order arrestees to return to their home countries after serving incarceration, although courts would have the power to dismiss cases if arrestees agreed to return home.

The measure would require the state Department of Corrections to take into custody people charged or convicted under the measure if local or county law enforcement does not have space to house them.

The proposal includes exceptions for people granted lawful presence status or asylum by the federal government.

The provision authorizing the arrest of cross-port border crossers will not take effect until the Texas law or similar laws in other states have been in effect for 60 days.

This is not the first time the Arizona Republican Party has attempted to criminalize migration.

When passing its immigration bill in 2010, the Arizona Legislature considered expanding the state’s trespassing law to criminalize the presence of immigrants and impose penals sanctions. But the incriminating language was removed and replaced with requiring officers, while enforcing other laws, to question people’s immigration status if they are suspected of being in the country illegally.

The interrogation requirement was ultimately upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court despite critics’ concerns about racial profiling, but courts barred enforcement of other sections of the law.

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