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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Bill would make felons of undocumented immigrants

    PHOENIX – The House passed a bill yesterday that allows local authorities to arrest illegal immigrants by making their presence in Arizona a felony.

    SB 1157 drew sharp criticism from Democrats, who said the bill seeks to criminalize illegal immigrants whose only desires were to get a job and contribute to society. They said the bill also turns local authorities into federal immigration officers.

    (The bill) criminalizes people whose only purpose is to work. It would make felons out of all the children. Nobody asked them if they wanted to be here.

    – David Lujan,
    D-Phoenix

    The bill’s author, Sen. Barbara Leff, R-Paradise Valley, defended her bill, saying she wrote the bill trying to give local law enforcement the authority to arrest illegal immigrants simply for trespassing.

    Leff said she intended for the bill to be partnered with two other bills, all aimed at stemming the flow of methamphetamines coming into the country from Mexico. The other two bills have been killed since their

    introduction.

    SB 1157 contains provisions making it a class 2 felony to possess methamphetamines or the precursor chemicals to make methamphetamines.

    But Rep. David Lujan, D-Phoenix, said the bill would be a disaster if implemented.

    “”It criminalizes people whose only purpose is to work,”” said Lujan.

    Lujan said the bill also targets a segment of the illegal immigrant population who have no voice in where they live: children.

    “”It would make felons of all the children,”” said Lujan. “”Nobody asked them if they wanted to be here.””

    Lujan gave the example of a recent visit by the Carl Hayden High School robotics team. He said if SB 1157 were implemented, the students on this award-winning team would be arrested solely for their immigration status.

    Rep. Jon Paton, R-Tucson, said he supported the bill because of the dire situation with illegal immigration in Southern Arizona.

    The bill barely passed the House yesterday with 32 votes – the bare minimum to pass the legislation.

    Leff said the bill would go to a joint conference committee and would likely be amended in the committee.

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