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'It's time for a walkout': Latino activists slam AZ ballot measure to make illegal immigration a state crime

Groups rally at the Capitol as lawmakers are poised to vote on HCR 2060

By Manuelita Beck, ABC 15

PHOENIX, AZ — Latino groups and their allies are calling on Arizonans to oppose a proposed ballot measure that would make illegal immigration a state crime in Arizona.

Living United for Change in Arizona and other groups gathered at the state capitol on Saturday morning to protest House Concurrent Resolution 2060, which is up for a vote in the state Senate. Speakers from LUCHA urged people at the rally to return on Tuesday when senators will be back in session.

“I invite you all to show up,” said Gina Mendez, LUCHA civic engagement organizer. “It's time for a walkout. It's time for our people to not show up to work that day.”

If approved by voters, HCR 2060 would make illegally crossing the Arizona border from Mexico a state crime, allowing local law enforcement to make arrests and local judges to order people to leave the country.

“This bill is going to racially profile us,” Mendez told rally attendees. “It’s going to deport our families. And it's going to continue to criminalize people just for living and breathing in the state of Arizona.”

The Republican lawmakers who proposed HCR 2060 say it’s a border enforcement measure, not an immigration bill. It's based on a Texas law that is currently on hold.

“This is a border bill,” state Sen. Janae Shamp, R-District 29, said during Thursday’s Senate session. “This is illegally entering our state, through a foreign nation from anywhere else, besides a lawful port of entry.”

Opponents of the ballot measure compare it to SB 1070, the controversial state immigration law that passed in 2010. Known by many as the “Show Me Your Papers Law,” much of it was eventually struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that immigration enforcement is a federal, not state, responsibility.

Activists on Saturday said getting people out to the capitol when lawmakers vote on the legislation will be key.

“And what we're saying and what this community is saying, is that we are a better Arizona, that we're not going back to the politics of hate, that we are standing up,” LUCHA Executive Director Alejandra Gomez told ABC15.

Lawmakers from both parties expect the bill to pass both the Senate and House, which ]have narrow Republican majorities.

The Legislature passed a bill to make illegal immigration a state crime earlier in the session. Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed that bill two months ago. But because HCR 2060 is a ballot initiative, it cannot be vetoed. If lawmakers pass the legislation, the measure goes directly to voters in November.

HCR 2060 would also stiffen penalties for fentanyl sales in cases where the drug is a “substantial cause” of someone’s death, require state and local agencies to use a federal system to check the immigration of benefits applicants and make it a crime to submit false paperwork when applying for public benefits or to an employer.

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