By Vivian Padilla
Cronkite News Service
PHOENIX – Republican leaders in the Senate and House are allowing Arizona’s people and economy to suffer by refusing to hear two bills that would repeal SB 1070, a Democratic state lawmaker said Thursday.
“SB 1070 continues to be a black cloud over the state of Arizona, and it continues to haunt many members within the Latino community,” said Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix.
Neither SB 1120, authored by Gallardo, nor HB 2651, authored by Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson, were heard in committee.
At a news conference, they criticized the Republican leadership of both houses.
“They want to sweep it under the rug and pretend it’s not there,” Gallardo said.
Calling SB 1070 a “tragedy,” Gonzales said the law has equipped police with the power to harass and profile individuals.
“Our community members face discrimination on a daily basis at work, at school, in the communities simply because we have brown skin,” she said.
Both bills would overturn SB 1070, which Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law in 2010. Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected most of the law’s provisions but upheld giving local police the authority to check the immigration status of some suspects.
Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, attended the press conference and later sparred verbally with Gallardo while speaking to reporters. He said repealing SB 1070 would harm legal Arizona workers.
“As soon as the economy picks up, unless we have a secure border, unless we have good internal enforcement, we’ll again have a tsunami of illegal immigrants who are going to depress the wages of legal workers in this country, who are going to take jobs from legal workers,” he said.
Standing nearby, Gallardo interjected when Kavanagh called attempting to overturn SB 1070 “ridiculous” and “theatrical.”
“Why not have a fair hearing?” Gallardo said. “What are we afraid of? Let’s talk about the facts on SB 1070 and the impact it has had on the economy.”
Kavanagh said it would be a waste to devote time to legislation with no chance of passing.
“The people who want to repeal it are the ones who opposed it in the first place and lost,” Kavanagh said. “Get used to it.”
This is Gallardo’s second year pushing to repeal SB 1070, and he said the fight will continue.
“Let’s get it out of the way, and let’s not let it haunt the Republicans here at the Legislature,” he said.