Arizona Legislature Sends Immigration Measure to November Ballot

The state House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution that will ask voters if it should expand its ability to enforce immigration law.

The Arizona State Legislature passed a measure that will ask the Grand Canyon State’s voters if it should be a state crime to cross the southern border from anywhere outside an official port of entry.

On June 4, by a partisan 31–29 vote, the Arizona House of Representatives passed House Concurrent Resolution 2060. The vote will send the issue to the state’s November ballot.

If voters endorse the proposal, it would authorize Arizona state and local police to arrest illegal immigrants crossing the border without authorization.

Moreover, it would allow state judges to order the deportation of those violating the proposed law.

Ahead of the vote, on its X account, the Arizona House Democrats called the resolution a new “show me your papers bill.”

“HCR2060 will not ‘fix’ the border, fight crime, or stop the flow of fentanyl,” the June 4 statement said. “But, it will cost us millions to fight in court and will eventually lose.”

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A fiscal note published by the legislature’s Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee on May 31 said the new law could cost state and local law enforcement more than $41 million.

“State and local law enforcement spending would increase in terms of costs associated with arrest, prosecution, and incarceration.

“State and local public benefit and education spending could decline, but state and local governments could incur higher administrative costs,” the note said.

“Reduced levels of immigration would reduce state and local tax collections.”

In more than two hours of speeches explaining how they were voting, state representatives made their cases before the body.

Democrats called the resolution unconstitutional, a waste of resources, and discriminatory. Republicans countered, saying the measure is needed to enforce existing laws in lieu of federal enforcement.

Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma, a Republican, said “the people of Arizona will get the final say on this issue” as he cast the final vote.

The Arizona vote came the same day that President Joe Biden was expected to sign an executive order shutting down asylum requests at the southern border once the average number of daily encounters between ports of entry exceeds 2,500 people.

The border would remain shut until that daily average stayed below 1,500 for at least a week.

President Biden’s likely Republican opponent in the presidential race, former President Donald Trump, in a message published on his Truth Social account on June 4, said the action was “all for show” because the Biden administration feels pressure to act on immigration ahead of the scheduled presidential debate on June 27.

Karoline Leavitt, the press secretary for the Trump campaign, called the executive order “amnesty, not border security.”

“If Joe Biden truly wanted to shut down the border, he could do so with a swipe of the same pen, but he never will because he is controlled by radical left Democrats who seek to destroy America,” Ms. Leavitt said in a June 4 release.

The state’s Senate approved the resolution in May on a 16–13 party-line vote, sending it back to the House for a final reading.

In February, Ms. Hobbs’s office called the resolution a “desperate, partisan attempt to circumvent the legislative process.”

“Instead of securing our border, these bills will simply raise costs, hurt our farmers, put Arizona entrepreneurs out of business, and destroy jobs for countless working-class Arizonans,” Ms. Hobbs said in a Feb. 26 statement.

“The answer to securing the border is more resources for border patrol and law enforcement in these communities, not job-killing, anti-immigrant legislation meant to score cheap political points.”

In its message, the state’s Senate Republican caucus said there is an “ urgent need for a border security measure like HCR2060 to protect our citizens and our state.”

“The governor’s reckless disregard for the safety and well-being of our citizens has left us no other option than to send the Secure the Border Act to the ballot to empower Arizonans to take matters into their own hands,” Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen said in a May 22 release.

On May 8, the Arizona Latino Legislative Caucus denounced the bill. It called the measure “revenge on Arizona after losing on abortion rights.”

“HCR2060’s new language is SB1070 ’show me your papers’ on steroids,” the Caucus’ statement said. “It is an unconstitutional, legally unnecessary, intensely divisive, xenophobic measure designed by Republicans as an election-year dog whistle.”

It is unclear how the ballot measure will affect electoral politics in Arizona in November.

Arizona, formerly a reliably Republican state, voted for President Biden in 2020 and for Ms. Hobbs in 2022. It also reelected Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) in 2022.

In 2024, Arizona is considered a battleground state.

In the presidential race, both President Biden and President Trump will likely jostle for its 11 votes in the Electoral College.

The state will also play host to a race for a Senate seat that will be vacated by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), which will be crucial to the balance of power in Washington.

Ms. Sinema, formerly a Democrat, still caucuses with the Democratic Party.

While the state will not hold its primary election until June 30, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) is likely to win the Democratic contest.

Kari Lake, who ran against Ms. Hobbs in 2022, is considered the favorite in the Republican race.

Immigration is likely to be a hot-button issue for politicians and voters in 2024.

In April, pollsters at Gallup Inc. found that Americans consider immigration the “most important U.S. problem” ahead of governance in general, the economy, and inflation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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