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‘Secure the Border Act’ heads to Arizona voters in November

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(The Center Square) – Arizona lawmakers passed the “Secure the Border Act” on Tuesday, and it will now head to the ballot. It passed with 31 Republicans and 29 Democrats voting along party lines.

The resolution will be on the ballot for voters to have the final say on the act, which includes proposals ranging from making illegally crossing the border a state crime to stronger laws related to illicit fentanyl and e-verify. The Tucson sector is considered a hotbed for migrant encounters, according to federal government data.

“The border is a dangerous place,” Rep. Theresa Martinez, R-Casa Grande, said. “This vote will allow the people of Arizona to decide to themselves what they want.”

The Center Square reported that amendments were made to HCR2060 before it headed to the House, including getting rid of language related to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients and clarifying what could be used as evidence for probable cause.

The amendments added on the Senate side require there to be video evidence or a law enforcement officer witnessing the violation in order for it to be considered probable cause. However, Senate Democrats raised concerns about what could be considered “constitutionally sufficient indicia” that could also be considered a basis for probable cause.

The probable cause concerns led many critics of the bill to draw back to Senate Bill 1070 from over a decade ago, saying it could open the door to racial profiling. In addition, there have been concerns about how to account for more law enforcement resources if it is passed.

“It will be an unfunded mandate,” Rep. Keith Seaman, D-Casa Grande, said. “Arizona taxpayers will have to foot the bill.”

Gov. Katie Hobbs could not veto the concurrent resolution since it is a ballot referral, but she has vetoed similar legislation this session. Sen. Janae Shamp’s “Arizona Border Invasion Act” would have also made it illegal crossing a state crime, but it ended up being the first veto of the session. Despite her limited power in this situation, Hobbs has said the proposals pose and threat to the state’s economy.

“HCR 2060 will kill jobs, hurt businesses and prevent law enforcement from stopping dangerous crimes. Business leaders, border law enforcement, and bipartisan local leaders throughout the state who oppose this bill know it will not make us safer, instead it will demonize our communities and lead to racial profiling,” Hobbs said in a statement on May 22.

The state crime component of the bill is designed similarly to Texas Senate Bill 4, which is currently held up in federal court.

“Don’t Texas my Arizona,” Rep. Nancy Gutierrez, D-Tucson, said.

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