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Arizona business community weighs in on likely border ballot referral

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(The Center Square) – Some Arizona business groups have voiced views on the “Secure the Border Act” as Gov. Katie Hobbs and other Democrats have said it poses a risk to the state economy.

House Concurrent Resolution 2060 is expected to make it onto the ballot after Republicans in the state House and Senate are planning to vote in favor of the legislation.

One of the main pillars of the bill is to make it a state crime for people to enter the state through any point besides a legal point of entry. This would give non-federal law enforcement the power to arrest people if they’re believed to have entered illegally, regardless of what part of the state it’s in.

The legislation is inspired by Texas’ Senate Bill 4, which is currently being worked out in court. The outcome of that court case could have an impact on some of the Arizona proposals if it’s passed into law by voters in November, but other parts of the bill, such as making the “sale of lethal fentanyl” a class 2 felony, would likely not be affected.

Greater Phoenix Leadership said they are outright opposed to the proposals outlined in the legislation, calling it “an unworkable response to a federal problem with unknown consequences.”

“This measure places an unfunded mandate on local law enforcement to enforce border policy and lacks the infrastructure needed to assume the federal responsibility of apprehension and detention,” the group stated.

The Center Square reported that law enforcement agencies, especially along the border, would likely need to hire more officers in order to follow the law if passed.

“The courts have yet to determine the impact of the Texas model, which has been applied to HCR 2060. To advance something of such consequence is premature, as it would be voter-protected. It poses an unpredictable impact and cannot be legislatively changed,” the group added.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry struck a similar tone but criticized how some aspects of the bill have been characterized. Notably, the business organization asked Congress and President Joe Biden to take action at the border on the federal level.

“We share the Legislature’s frustration with the lack of federal action on immigration and border security,” Danny Seiden, President and CEO of the chamber, said in a statement on Thursday. “We also recognize that lawmaking at the ballot box is fraught with the potential for unintended consequences, and Arizona’s Voter Protection Law would leave the Legislature nearly powerless to address them. By taking on this federal responsibility, we’re saddling overburdened law enforcement and correctional agencies with a new, unfunded mandate.”

“We can anticipate attempts to harm Arizona’s reputation. We’ve already seen opponents of the bill attempt to ascribe to it attributes that were never in the bill or that have been removed. And yet Arizona businesses will pay the price,” Seiden continued.

The comments from the business groups come as Hobbs has referred to the legislation as “job-killing” and “anti-business.”

“This ballot initiative won’t secure our border. Instead, it will put Arizona entrepreneurs out of business, kill jobs and prevent law enforcement from keeping our communities safe,” Hobbs stated.

Republican and law enforcement proponents of the ballot referral, including Senate President Warren Petersen, said that it would help businesses since he says it would make them more protected.

“This is truly a border security bill, it does nothing with businesses,” Petersen said at a news conference on Wednesday.

“This will make it better for business, safer for business,” he added.

Arizona’s Tucson Sector has had the highest number of migrant encounters across the border in fiscal year 2024 so far with 342,002 encounters, according to United States Customs and Border Protection data.

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