by Jim Nintzel
Sen. Russell Pearce's illegal-immigration omnibus bill is drawing protests at the Capitol.
Griselda Nevarez of Cronkite News Service reports:
Dozens of demonstrators rallied Monday at the State Capitol against bills that would make it trespassing to be in the country illegally and require local law enforcement to assist in enforcing federal immigration laws.
Members of several organizations carried signs and chanted outside the Executive Tower where Gov. Jan Brewer’s office is located. They delivered hundreds of letters urging her to veto SB 1070 and HB 2632 if they reach her desk.
Alfredo Gutierrez, a former state senator, said it would be unconstitutional to charge people in the country illegally with trespassing.
“These are people who aren’t even jaywalking,” he said. “It is merely their presence and their
status of being undocumented that will make them criminals.”
SB 1070, sponsored by Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, won Senate approval and was awaiting action by the House. HB 2632, sponsored by Rep. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, was awaiting a vote by the full House.
Both bills also would make it illegal to pick up and hire undocumented workers.
Anna Gaines, founder and chairwoman of American Citizens United, was among a group of counter-demonstrators who carried signs supporting the bills.
“We need to protect the jobs for Americans that live here,” Gaines said.
But Daniel Rodriguez of Phoenix said allowing law enforcement to ask for a person’s immigration status would make undocumented people reluctant to seek help from police.
“If people are afraid to call the police, then that’s a big threat to our national security,” he said.
Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said it would be a mistake to make police enforce federal immigration laws.
“This forces police officers to prioritize immigration enforcement over other public safety duties and I think that is a move in the wrong direction,” she said.