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Arizona Lawmakers Pass ‘Secure the Border Act’ to Be on November Ballot

In a party line vote of 31-29 Tuesday afternoon, Arizona lawmakers approved House Concurrent Resolution 2060 (HCR 2060), known as the “Secure the Border Act.”

By Christy Kelly, Arizona Sun Times

PHOENIX, Arizona - The resolution aims to give local law enforcement the authority to verify the immigration status of individuals during lawful stops, detentions, or arrests if there was probable cause that they were in the country illegally.

During the session, Republican lawmakers argued that this measure would fill gaps left by federal immigration enforcement, ensuring that state and local officials could act to maintain order and security within Arizona’s borders.

The resolution will appear on the November 2024 ballot, and voters will decide whether to accept its provisions.

“Arizonans have had enough and want change. They want safe communities and a secure border,” State House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Glendive) said in a statement celebrating the resolution’s passage.

He noted the ballot referral includes “meaningful reforms to protect the integrity of Arizona’s workforce, strengthen criminal laws, and reinforce the rule of law in this state.”

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

Republicans criticized House Democrats for not attending a Monday border visit with fellow members. After the border tour, they said it was clear that the federal government had abandoned its duty and action under the 10th Amendment, which was necessary to protect Arizonans.

Democrats compared this bill to the SB 1070, known as the “Show Us Your Papers” law, which opponents criticized as racist. State Representative Nancy Gutierrez (D-18) argued that the bill would create a “fear-filled place” in Arizona.

She expressed concerns that public schools would become battlegrounds and target zones for ICE immigration enforcement, making parents afraid to engage with schools.

However, Toma clarified that the bill aimed only to strengthen E-Verify, increase fentanyl penalties, and make it a state crime to illegally enter Arizona. The speaker said the bill empowered local authorities to act under a probable cause standard, not the lower reasonable suspicion standard used under SB 1070. He also asserted that police would not have “special immunity” under the new provisions and that the resolution had nothing to do with children in schools.

Before the hearing began, Toma closed the gallery to the public and directed numerous protesters and community members to remote viewing rooms.

The Arizona Sun Times spoke with representative from the Left-leaning activist group, LUCHA (Living United for Change in Arizona) about the measure.

“While MAGA Republicans like to treat the Arizona Legislature like their personal sandbox for the creation of racist legislation like HCR 2060, the Legislature remains the people’s house!” she told The Sun Times; adding, “Today’s announcement that the House Gallery has been shut down is a travesty and a disgrace. Republicans don’t believe in democracy when the people get to witness their inhumanity in action. They want to legislate without looking into the eyes of Arizonans.”

“Make no mistake in November, they will see us,” she said.

Supporters of HCR 2060 argued that reducing illegal immigration would lead to safer communities and a more controlled and legal workforce, outweighing any potential economic drawbacks. By putting HCR 2060 on the November ballot, Republican lawmakers aimed to bypass a likely veto from Governor Katie Hobbs, allowing voters to decide on the measure.

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