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Hobbs vetoes GOP bill to usurp enforcement of federal immigration laws

Gov. Katie Hobbs issued a stinging rebuke to Arizona Republicans on Monday, wielding her veto stamp to reject a GOP priority proposal that sought to give the state the power to arrest and deport migrants. 

By Gloria Gomez, AZ Mirror

The veto is Hobbs’ first for the 2024 legislative session, following a recording-breaking 143 issued last year, and further cements a contentious relationship with the Republican legislative majority, which championed the proposal as a party priority. 

Titled the “Arizona Border Invasion Act,” Senate Bill 1231 would have made it a class 1 misdemeanor to cross the state’s southern border anywhere but at the ports of entry and allowed local police officers to arrest migrants suspected of violating the act. Those convicted of a first offense would have faced a six-month jail sentence unless they agreed to return to Mexico voluntarily. 

While Republican lawmakers repeatedly pointed to Hobbs’ criticism of the Biden administration’s immigration policies as an indicator that she might support their proposal, that hope didn’t come to fruition. In a veto letter, Hobbs echoed the criticism of immigrant rights groups and businesses, saying it was the wrong move for Arizona and would only lead to legal challenges. 

“This bill does not secure our border, will be harmful for communities and businesses in our state, and burdensome for law enforcement personnel and the state judicial system,” she wrote. “Further, this bill presents significant constitutional concerns and would be certain to mire the State in costly and protracted litigation.” 

A near-identical law in Texas is currently being challenged by the U.S. Department of Justice over its unconstitutionality, and has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court

Arizona has previously attempted to enforce immigration law and weathered lawsuits because of it. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down three of four provisions in SB1070, the state’s notorious “show me your papers” law that allowed local police officers to detain and investigate people suspected of being in the country illegally. The high court ruled that enforcing immigration law is under the sole and supreme authority of the federal government. 

Republicans slammed the governor’s action, accusing Hobbs of “unleashing chaos” on the state and denouncing her as an “accomplice” of Biden.


“The Legislature did its job to protect our citizens, but Governor Hobbs failed to do hers,” Sen. Janae Shamp, the bill sponsor, said in an emailed statement. “Arizonans want and deserve safe communities. Our local, county, and state law enforcement officers are pleading for help, and they support this legislation to protect our citizens.”

No law enforcement agencies registered in support of the measure or showed up to voice approval of it during committee hearings. 

The Republican from Surprise added that Hobbs’ veto disrespects law enforcement officials and victims of crime across the state, equating migrants with criminals. 

“This veto is a slap in the face to (law enforcement), Arizona’s victims of border-related crimes, and other citizens who will inevitably feel the wrath of this border invasion in one way, shape, or form at the hands of Hobbs and Biden,” Shamp said. 

Immigrant and human rights organizations lauded Hobbs’ veto, criticizing the measure as an extension of SB1070. 

Noah Schramm, the border policy strategist for the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, celebrated the veto and said the proposal would only have led to widespread racial profiling. 

“Just like its predecessor, SB1070, this bill would have illegally side-stepped protections guaranteed under federal law, led to even greater harassment of communities of color, and advanced a dishonest and dangerous narrative about immigrants in our state,” he said in an emailed statement. “Legislation like SB1231 has no place in Arizona where immigrants are our friends, family, and neighbors; but rather than protecting Arizona communities, extremist lawmakers are only concerned with inciting hateful divisions”. 

Alejandra Gomez, the executive director of Living United for Change in Arizona, a pro-immigrant advocacy group that has voiced strong opposition to the bill, said the measure was the wrong response to a humanitarian crisis. 

“Today we thank Governor Hobbs for striking a major blow to Arizona Republicans’ attempt to bring in a new era of anti-immigrant hate and legalized racial profiling to our state. SB1231 doesn’t solve the humanitarian crisis at the border, and it would have inflicted tremendous harm to Arizona communities,” she said.

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