Arizona House passes controversial Secure the Border Act, sends measure to ballot

Jun 4, 2024, 1:51 PM | Updated: Jun 5, 2024, 11:45 am

The Arizona House passed the Secure the Vote act on June 4, 2024. (Photo by Rebecca Noble/Getty Ima...

The Arizona House passed the Secure the Vote act on June 4, 2024. (Photo by Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)

(Photo by Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Voters will have the final say on the controversial Secure the Border Act after the Arizona House passed the measure on Tuesday that would let law enforcement arrest those who they see cross the border illegally.

HCR2060 passed with solely Republican support, all that was necessary since the GOP holds the majority in the House. The Republican-controlled Arizona Senate passed HCR2060 on May 22.

The measure will be on the ballot for the Nov. 5 general election.

“Arizonans have had enough and want change. They want safe communities and a secure border. House Republicans do too. That’s why we crafted HCR 2060, the Secure the Border Act, a ballot referral with meaningful reforms to protect the integrity of Arizona’s workforce, strengthen criminal laws, and reinforce the rule of law in this state,” House Speaker Ben Toma said in a statement.

“Today’s final passage sends this Act to the ballot this November, so the will of Arizona voters is heard.”

What would Secure the Border Act do?

The measure would let state and local police arrest people crossing the border without authorization. It also would empower state judges to order people convicted of the offense to go back to their home country.

Under the current proposal, a first-time conviction of the border-crossing provision would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. State judges could order people to return to their countries of origin after completing a term of incarceration, although the courts would have the power to dismiss cases if those arrested agree to return home.

The measure would require the state corrections department to take into custody people who are charged or convicted under the measure if local or county law enforcement agencies don’t have enough space to house them.

Why is Secure the Border Act controversial?

While federal law already prohibits the unauthorized entry of migrants into the U.S., proponents of the measure say it’s needed because the federal government hasn’t done enough to stop people from crossing illegally over Arizona’s vast, porous border with Mexico.

They also said some people who enter Arizona without authorization commit identity theft and take advantage of public benefits.

The proposal includes exceptions for people who have been granted lawful presence status or asylum by the federal government.

Opponents have argued the bill will be a repeat of SB1070, Arizona’s controversial “show-me-your-papers” law that passed in 2010 and was eventually partially struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Similarities to Texas’ SB4, which is currently on hold due to court challenges, are also present.

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs has called the measure “harmful legislation” and voiced concerns that Arizona would lose business if it became law.

“I’ve said it before and I will say it again: HCR 2060 will hurt Arizona businesses, send jobs out of state, make it more difficult for law enforcement to do their jobs, and bust the state’s budget,” Hobbs said in a statement. “It will not secure our border. Despite strong opposition from business leaders, border law enforcement, and bipartisan local leaders throughout the state, extremists in the legislature have chosen to prioritize their political agendas over finding real solutions.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona House passes controversial Secure the Border Act, sends measure to ballot