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Secure the Border Act heads to Arizona voters

HCR 2060 will be on the November ballot after it passes through Arizona House of Representatives

By J.D. Wallace, KOLD 13 News

TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The Secure the Border Act is headed to Arizona voters.

The state House of Representatives approved it Tuesday along party lines after an hours-long vote. Opponents called it racist and unconstitutional but supporters said the bill is not about immigration but enforcement.

Protests against HCR 2060 greeted anyone entering the House of Representatives Tuesday.

“We feel it’s a total racist bill, one that will be detrimental to our community in Tucson. You know a lot of our businesses depend on the spending power that immigrants spend,” said Rocky Rivera, a community organizer for Living United for Change in Arizona, known as LUCHA.

“It’s absolutely not racist. It’s not SB 1070. It’s correcting a problem that is the number one issue in the state of Arizona. People want our border secure,” said Rep. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford.

The House gallery was closed for the final vote.

“It’s disappointing to me that it’s come to this. What we saw in the Senate two weeks ago was inexcusable,” Speaker Pro Tempore Travis Grantham said about the gallery closure from the dais.

“The public gallery should be open to the public. This is the people’s house and I am appealing the ruling of the chair because when we had anti-abortion extremists pack the gallery,” Rep. Analise Ortiz, D-Glendale, as she addressed the speaker pro tempore from the floor of the House.

Democrats raised concerns about the lack of funding and the possibility of racial profiling under the act by allowing local law enforcement to arrest those who cross the border between ports of entry.

Republicans said a trip to the border highlighted the need for the bill, from vans of people showing up and their risk of being exploited to the amount of fentanyl being smuggled across.

“We don’t know who’s coming through our borders. There are 160 different countries being represented by people coming through. So it is a problem,” Griffin said.

“Many of us who are sitting here have actually spent the majority of our lives crossing between Tucson and Nogales. So I don’t need to go on a field trip and play dress up,” said Representative Alma Hernandez, D-Tucson, as she explained her vote against the bill on the floor of the House.

The act, sponsored by House Speaker Ben Toma who spoke last, ultimately passed 31 to 29, which leaves the ultimate decision to voters in November.

“This is actually really a border security issue first and foremost and a border security bill than an immigration bill. As such, I think it’s going to fine. There will be an effort. I don’t know the details yet,” Speaker Toma said.

The bill has no funding source but Speaker Toma said that if voters approve it, the budget process is always negotiable; however, the governor has expressed disapproval of the bill.

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