Arizona Senate passes controversial Secure the Border Act

May 22, 2024, 5:40 PM | Updated: May 23, 2024, 11:54 am

Secure the Border Act: Arizona Senate votes to send law to House...

Before the final vote, several Democrats like Anna Hernandez, right, questioned Republicans like Ken Bennett, left. (Photos: Heidi Hommel/KTAR News, Department of Defense)

(Photos: Heidi Hommel/KTAR News, Department of Defense)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Senate voted to pass the Secure the Border Act on Wednesday afternoon.

The vote on Wednesday sends the controversial legislation to the Arizona House.

If it passes, which could happen given the state’s Republican-led legislature, the law will show up on the ballot in the general election on Nov. 5.

That will pave the way for Arizonans to decide whether or not they want to make entering the state illegally a state crime.

If Arizonans vote yes to enshrine the Secure the Border Act in law, local police would be able to enforce federal immigration laws.

This is the second time the Arizona Senate has been ready to vote on HCR2060.

Last week, though, lawmakers had to delay their vote.

Republican Sen. Ken Bennett from Prescott previously said he wouldn’t vote for it without amendments.

His support was necessary because the GOP only has a one-seat advantage in the Senate.

What do critics say about Secure the Border Act?

Before the final vote to approve the amended law, several protestors made their way to the Arizona Senate to show their disapproval.

Opponents argue the act is similar to SB1070, Arizona’s controversial “show-me-your-papers” law, which passed in 2010. However, the U.S. Supreme Court partially struck down that law.

Critics have also noted similarities to Texas’ SB4, which is currently on hold due to court challenges.

Others have voiced concerns about race-based discrimination. An official statement from Arizona Senate Democrats said it would hurt Dreamers, which refers to children of undocumented migrants who did not legally enter the U.S.

Could this law lead to deportations across Arizona?

Sen. Anna Hernandez was one of several Democrats who questioned Republicans who supported the recent amendments to the law.

Hernandez worried this bill would enable authorities to break into the homes of undocumented migrants to arrest them for illegally crossing the border.

Specifically, she worried about the “border bill” being used to punish people all across the state — instead of only leading to arrests near the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona.

“How is the limitation only to the border when there is no geographical limitation?” Hernandez said. She wondered if authorities would burst into a person’s home, place of work or church to arrest them if there’s video evidence of them illegally crossing the border.

“I don’t see how that could possibly used by somebody to randomly go through churches or homes or businesses or anything to find someone that might be on that video,” Bennett said. “I don’t think that’s the way our law enforcement officers work.”

After Hernandez reiterated the need for language specifying geographical limitations in the amendment’s language, another Republican spoke to support the bill.

Sen. John Kavanagh said there is a “tsunami of illegals” coming across the border. He said if police have evidence of a crime, “of course” they can arrest if they have probable cause. The law comes down to public safety and fiscal responsibility, he added.

Democratic Sen. Flavio Bravo also voiced concerns about the law.

He said the Secure the Border Act would make undocumented migrants feel afraid. He also said they might flee Arizona, thus leading to fewer congressional seats.

“This would force families to live in the shadows, instead of leading productive lives,” he said. “Instead of thanking them for their contributions, this would only put them in a more vulnerable position. And it sends the message that we don’t want them here.”

Yelling broke out in the gallery as Republican Sen. T.J. Shope spoke to explain his vote.

The loud people in the gallery who interrupted the senator chanted “Stop the hate!” and swore when security started escorting them out.

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Arizona Senate passes controversial Secure the Border Act