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Republican State Sen. Ken Bennett: 'I won't vote for' immigration ballot measure without changes

Bennett said he has concerns about enforcement against children and families

By Manuelita Beck, ABC 15

A Republican state senator says he won't vote for a proposed ballot measure to make illegal immigration a state crime without several changes.

House Concurrent Resolution 2060 would, if approved by voters, make it a state crime to cross the Arizona-Mexico border outside of official ports of entry. That would allow local law enforcement to make arrests and local judges to order those convicted to leave the country.

The Arizona Senate was scheduled to vote on the measure Tuesday but adjourned for the week without hearing HCR 2060.

Sen. Ken Bennett, R-District 1, told reporters on Tuesday the measure needs a number of changes.

“There are some things that, if we don't get, I won't vote for it,” he said.

Bennett said he doesn’t want HCR 2060 to be applied to Dreamers with DACA status – even if the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is canceled.

Bennett also said he has concerns about enforcement against children and families.

Backers of the proposed ballot measure say it is a border enforcement measure that won’t be enforced statewide, but opponents have noted that HCR 2060 does not include language restricting it to the border.

Saying he is concerned about racial profiling, Bennett said he’s looking at language to address that.

"To give state, county and local law enforcement the tools to arrest and detain people who are entering illegally – the farther away you get from the border, that harder it is to maintain the probable cause that I think you'd need to make those detentions,” he said.

But any changes, he said, would also have to be acceptable to his fellow Republicans, who have a slim 16-14 majority in the Arizona Senate.

Critics such as Living United for Change in Arizona have compared the proposed ballot measure to SB 1070, commonly known as the “Show Me Your Papers Law.” Much of the 2010 Arizona law was thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court because it conflicted with federal law.

“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 at a rally against the measure Saturday.

The proposal was introduced May 8 as a strike-everything amendment to an earlier proposed ballot measure to greatly expand the use of E-Verify in Arizona.

In addition to making illegal border crossings a state offense, the amended HCR 2060 includes provisions making it a crime to submit false paperwork to a state and local agency when applying for public benefits or to an employer and strengthening the penalty for fentanyl sales in cases where someone has died.

Senators are expected to vote on HCR 2060 next week. If it passes the House, voters will see the proposal on their November ballot.

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