Election 2024: Arizona voters will decide whether local police can make cross-border arrests

PHOENIX (AP) — The Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature on Tuesday gave final approval to a proposal asking voters to make it a state crime for non-citizens to enter the state anywhere other than through a port of entry through Mexico. 5 Ballot.

The vote came as President Joe Biden unveiled the plans on Tuesday Limit the number of migrants seeking asylum “This action will help us regain control of our border and restore order to the process,” he said on the US-Mexico border.

Arizona’s proposal, approved by the state House in a 31-29 vote, would allow state and local police to arrest people who cross the border without a permit. It would also give state judges the power to order the return of criminals to their home countries.

The proposal bypasses Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs He vetoed the same move At the beginning of March and is The attempt was condemned The issue should be taken to the voters.

Hobbs spoke against the bill’s passage, saying “extremists in the Legislature have chosen to prioritize their political agendas over finding real solutions.”

He said the legislation “will hurt Arizona businesses, send jobs out of state, make it more difficult for law enforcement to do their jobs, and overwhelm the state’s budget. It will not protect our border.”

Citing concerns about security and potential disruptions, House Republicans closed access to the chamber’s upper gallery before Tuesday’s session began. The move immediately drew criticism from Democrats, who demanded that the gallery be reopened.

All Republicans voted in favor of the proposal and all Democrats voted against it.

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Supporters of the bill say it’s necessary to ensure security along the state’s southern border and give Arizona voters a chance to decide the issue for themselves.

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

Opponents called the law unconstitutional, saying it would lead to racial profiling and create millions of dollars in unaffordable additional policing costs for Arizona cities, counties and the state.

State Rep. Annalise Ortiz, a Democrat who has lived in the United States for generations, said that under the law, “my brown skin would allow a police officer to pull me over on suspicion in my state of birth.”

The proposal is similar to a Texas law that has been put on hold while it is challenged by a federal appeals court.

Supporters of the measure say it is needed because the federal government has not done enough to stop people crossing Arizona’s vast, porous Mexico border illegally, while federal law already prohibits unauthorized entry by immigrants into the United States. They also said some who enter Arizona without authorization commit identity theft and take advantage of public benefits.

Opponents say the proposal would saddle the state with new costs for law enforcement agencies inexperienced in immigration law, as well as harm Arizona’s reputation in the business world.

But advocates dismissed those concerns, saying local authorities still need to develop probable cause to arrest people entering Arizona between ports of entry.

Supporters say the measure focuses only on the state’s border and — unlike Arizona’s landmark 2010 immigration law — doesn’t target people across the state. Opponents point out that the plan lacks geographic limits that would allow it to be implemented.

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The ballot proposal includes other provisions not included in the Texas measure and not directly related to immigration. These include making it a felony to sell fentanyl that results in a person’s death, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and requiring certain government agencies to use a federal database to check a noncitizen’s eligibility for benefits.

Warning of potential legal costs, opponents point to Arizona’s 2005 immigrant smuggling ban, when Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio used 20 large-scale traffic patrols targeting immigrants. This led to the 2013 racial profiling ruling and taxpayer-funded legal and compliance costs now totaling $265 million and It is expected to reach 314 million dollars By July 2025.

Under the current proposal, a first-time conviction of the cross-border provision would carry a prison sentence of up to six months. Although courts have the power to dismiss cases if those arrested agree to return home, state judges can order people to return to their home countries after serving prison terms.

The measure would require the state Department of Corrections to detain those charged or convicted under it if local or county law enforcement agencies do not have a place to house them.

The proposal includes exemptions for people who have been granted lawful presence status or asylum by the federal government.

The provision allowing the arrest of border crossers between ports does not take effect until Texas law or similar laws from other states have been in effect for 60 days.

This isn’t the first time Republican lawmakers in Arizona have tried to criminalize immigration.

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When passing an immigration bill in 2010, the Arizona Legislature considered expanding the state’s trespass law to criminalize the presence of immigrants and impose criminal penalties. But the trespass language was removed and replaced with a requirement that authorities question people’s immigration status if they are believed to be in the country illegally while implementing other laws.

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

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