Groups rally at State Capitol against bill making illegal immigration trespassing

By GRISELDA NEVAREZ
Cronkite News Service

PHOENIX — Dozens of people rallying Wednesday at the State Capitol urged Gov. Jan Brewer to veto a bill that would require local law enforcement to assist in enforcing federal immigration law.

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The demonstration followed Tuesday’s House passage of SB 1070, sponsored by Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, sending the bill back to the Senate to resolve differences between the chambers’ versions. The next stop after that, should the Senate agree with the House changes, would be Brewer’s desk.

Dozens protested Wednesday, April 14, 2010, at the State Capitol against legislation that among other things would make being in the U.S. illegally a trespassing offense in Arizona. Demonstrators urged Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the bill should it reach her desk. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Griselda Nevarez)

Among other things, the bill would make it a trespassing offense for someone suspected of being in the U.S. illegally to fail to produce an “alien registration document” such as a green card or to willfully fail to register for one.

Jaime Farrant, policy director for the Border Action Network, a group supporting immigrants’ rights, said the bill would establish Arizona as the nation’s leader in creating anti-immigration laws and as the leader in anti-Hispanic sentiment.

“In the past three or four years we have seen an increasing attempt at the state Legislature to pass anti-immigrant bills like this one,” Farrant said.

He said his group had organized opponents to send more than 20,000 postcards and 15,000 e-mails to Brewer’s office.

 

“The governor still has the chance to do what’s right and what we believe voters want,” Farrant said.

The bill also would make it illegal for day laborers to seek work along roads or on sidewalks and make it a crime for drivers to transport someone whom they know to be in the country illegally.

Members of several organizations carried signs and chanted outside the Executive Tower, where Brewer’s office is located.

Antonio D. Bustamante, a member of Los Abogados, a Hispanic legal group in Phoenix, said the bill would violate constitutional rights and create even more problems for the state.

“It’s a complete invasion of the federal government’s province to regulate immigration,” he said, “but even if the courts decide it is not, the courts will never be able to put a halt to the rampant discrimination and racial profiling to which this gives license to.”

Paul Senseman, a spokesman for the governor, said in a phone interview that Brewer hasn’t said whether or not she would sign the bill. However, he said Brewer has a track record of supporting “responsible immigration enforcement measures.”

Mark Spencer, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, which represents Phoenix police officers, said in a telephone interview that his group supports the bill because it would give local authorities the ability to better enforce the law.

“To hinder or restrict local law enforcement from partnering with their federal counterparts in ICE or Border Patrol increases the risk of danger not only for the community but also for officers,” he said.

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