Arizona’s New Anti-Immigrant Bills

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Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce (Flickr/katerkate)

It is extremely troubling to see Arizona continue to pursue misguided immigration proposals. Instead of trying to bring people together to find a fair and rational consensus (like the Utah Compact), they continue to find more ways to turn AZ into a police state.

Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce has introduced SB 1611, the “immigration omnibus” bill. This bill would require proof of U.S. citizenship for the following:

  • obtaining any license (it also allows for licenses of the undocumented to be revoked)
  • to enroll in schools or community colleges
  • to obtain a certificate of title (for any vehicle)
  • to receive public benefits (state or local)

It would also require all public housing authorities to evict any residents that are or allow persons with undocumented status to reside within their home/unit.

A host of other bills are flooding the Arizona legislature. Here are some of the worst:

SB1141: The “School Instruction; Exceptions; Violations; Classifications; Definitions” bill: This bill (like the omnibus) would require AZ Department of Education to establish a protocol requiring schools to maintain verifiable documentation of residency in the state for enrolled students. Currently, no proof of citizenship is needed to attend public schools, elementary-high school.

SB 1407: “Schools; Data; Noncitizen students”: this bill would require the AZ Dept. of Education to collect data from school districts and create annual reports on students who cannot prove lawful residency in the U.S. The report will have to include the cost to taxpayers, and the Superintendent would be allowed to withhold funds if a district did not report.

SB 1309: “Arizona Citizenship”: this bill would create a new status of citizenship for Arizona residents, “Arizona citizenship,” that can only be obtained if the person  has at least one U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident parent, or does not have citizenship or nationality in another country. Essentially this would be an attempt to sidestep the 14th Amendment and its guarantee that any child born on American soil must be considered and American citizen.

SB 1405: “Hospital Admissions; Restrictions”: This bill would require hospital admissions staff to confirm the immigration status of all patients not receiving emergency care. If the staff is unable to determine their immigration status, it would require that the staff member report the patient to federal immigration officials. Persons receiving emergency care would be reported after treatment.

It does not seem to matter that the state of Arizona continues to lose money with boycotts to their tourism industry and the endless legal battle that has erupted around its previous immigration bill S.B. 1070. Some estimates put the cost of legal challenges at nearly $1.6 million through November of 2010. As the fight continues, and as the state becomes increasingly known for its divisive policies that try to keep newcomers out of basic services like hospitals and education, no real fix is presented and the broken immigration system continues to wreck lives and corrode communities.

We ask Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, how long will you drag out this unnecessary fight, pushing the most vulnerable to the margins and businesses outside the state lines, before you realize that  the people of Arizona want to fix their immigration problem and not enforce broken laws.

But as we learned in October of last year, when you have close ties with the private prison industry, enforcing broken laws can be a profitable game.

Visit our Action Center and let your voice be heard! Advocate for Comprehensive Immigration Reform as the only real and durable solution.

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