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Republicans add ballot measure allowing warrantless arrests over immigration suspicions

A proposal that would allow for warrantless arrests and could greenlight racial profiling by law enforcement was approved along party lines Tuesday—and, pending legal challenges, is expected to appear on the November 2024 ballot.

By Camaron Stevenson, The Copper Courier

Opponents of the proposal have compared its language surrounding detainment, enforcement, and deportation to that of SB 1070. This 2010 law granted police the authority to make warrantless arrests—just as HCR 2060 does—and was ruled to be unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.

Here’s what the measure, currently known as HCR 2060, would do:

  • Give state law enforcement authority to arrest anyone they suspect has entered the country outside authorized ports of entry Declares crossing the border anywhere outside a port of entry to be a state crime—and a felony Creates stricter requirements and penalties for businesses that employ immigrants Grants law enforcement and government bodies blanket immunity from civil lawsuits that might result from enforcement of the law Requires harsher penalties against anyone convicted of knowingly selling fentanyl that causes death.

HCR 2060 does not provide funding for its mandate that local authorities enforce border crossings, despite enforcement coming with a hefty price tag, estimated to be $325 million annually. The spike in incarceration is also expected to cost the state’s prison system $50 million every year.

Opposition around the corner

The proposal’s passage through the legislature takes place the same day the Biden administration announced major restrictions on migrants seeking asylum at the US-Mexico border. Sean McEnerney, Arizona campaign manager for the Biden-Harris campaign, said that, unlike Tuesday’s executive action, the proposal passed by Republicans in the Arizona Legislature would encourage discrimination while doing little to address concerns surrounding border security.

“Arizonans have already mobilized against extreme Republicans’ ‘show me your papers’ law once, and they’ll reject this new harmful bill, which will be on the ballot this November,” said McEnerny. “This legislation from Trump’s MAGA allies does nothing to secure the border and will encourage discrimination against and racial profiling of people just because of the way they look or speak, even if they have been American citizens all of their lives.”

But HCR 2060’s place on the ballot is not yet secure: opponents believe the proposal itself is unconstitutional. Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA) plans to file legal challenges to stop the measure on grounds that it doesn’t meet requirements in place that limit the size and scope of ballot propositions.

Among other concerns, they believe the breadth of the measure could go against a requirement in state law that ballot measures only address a single subject. Jim Barton, a lawyer for LUCHA working on the lawsuit, believes the legislation is a scattershot of proposals that were vetoed by Gov. Katie Hobbs earlier this year and covers too many issues to meet state requirements.

“HCR 2060 is a right-wing extremist wish list cobbled together from a variety of previously rejected individual pieces of legislation,” said Barton. “It covers everything from an imagined invasion of the state to criminal drug charges to regulating employment. It most certainly embraces more than a single subject. Arizonans against hatred and extremism will have their day in court.”

Should the measure pass legal scrutiny, it will be added to the November 2024 ballot, where it will need approval from a majority of voters to become law.

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