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Arizona lawmakers walk out of Senate committee in protest of tough immigration bills

Some Arizona state lawmakers walked out the House floor Wednesday during a committee hearing for two immigration bills, HB 2748 and HB 2821.

By Alexis Dominguez, AZ Family

The measures would authorize state and local police to arrest migrants suspected of living in the country illegally.

Both have drawn comparisons to the controversial SB 1070 immigration law that passed over a decade ago, requiring law enforcement to ask people for proof of immigration status.

Republican lawmakers have championed the bills, saying the federal government has failed its duty to secure the border and they would empower state and local law enforcement.

Wednesday, both bills were heard by a committee in the Senate, despite Democratic lawmakers claiming the bills would not hold up to constitutional scrutiny if they were signed into law.

“The bills that we heard today are part of a package that we’ve already voted on,” said state Sen. Flavio Bravo, a Democrat that represents Phoenix near the I-17 corridor. “Our caucus voted unanimously together united in opposition.”

The sponsors have blamed President Joe Biden for a near-record surge of migrants at the border and said a stronger response from the state is needed.

Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers criticized how closely it resembles a law in Texas being evaluated by an appeals court.

“This is harmful policy that’s going to be costly to the state. It’s going to invite litigation when we’re in a budget deficit,” Flavio said.

Some community members also protested the hearing, saying a study from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found undocumented immigrants in the United States pay roughly $11.6 billion in taxes every year.

“Immigrants and undocumented folks contribute to our economy and right now in our state we’re in a deficit so removing undocumented workers from our state is only going to affect us but affect us by more than $11 billion,” said LUCHA organizer Gina Mendez.

State Sen. Rosanna Gabaldon, a Democrat representing parts of north Phoenix, believes these bills, similar to claims made against SB 1070 over a decade ago, would encourage racial profiling.

Wednesday, she shared her own experience with that. “To see the fear in my mom’s face, I will never ever want anybody in the state of Arizona to feel the way my mom felt. Being stopped numerous times is unacceptable. Any type of discrimination is unacceptable,” she said.

Democratic lawmakers say Republicans are capitalizing on an election year that focuses on immigration.

Gov. Katie Hobbs has repeatedly said she will veto both bills if they make it to her desk.

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