We've been here before — or, should we say, State Senator Steve Gallardo and Representative Sally Ann Gonzales have been here before — introducing legislation to the state house and senate to repeal SB 1070.
When the state lawmakers, Gallardo from Phoenix and Gonzales from Tucson, introduced similar legislature last year they were told by leadership that it was too late for their bills to get hearings. During today's press conference at the State Building in downtown Tucson, Gallardo and Gonzales said this time there are no excuses. They introduced their their laws to repeal SB 1070 early — HB 2651 from Gonzales and SB 1120 from Gallardo.
Today, is the deadline for bills to pass through committees or the bills die. It was reported yesterday that Gallardo confronted Republican leadership for not having assigned the bills to committees. Gallardo specifically confronted Republican Rep. John Kavanagh, who was outside the senate building talking with reporters.
In the Arizona Republic:
There was more passionate debate among lawmakers outside the Capitol than in it Thursday. Gallardo confronted Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, about the lack of discussion as Kavanagh stood outside the Senate building talking with reporters.
Kavanagh, who was instrumental in passing the state’s immigration law, said that the Legislature won’t entertain bills to repeal “good laws” and that Gallardo and his colleagues should “get used to it” and stop trying to “stir up the pot.”
“We have work to do in this chamber about new legislation, new problems, and we’re going to do that,” Kavanagh said. “Any debate on 1070? We’ll have it right here in the street, and we will not clog up the system that has to deal with the budget and other critical issues.”
During today's press conference, Gallardo, Gonzales and others who spoke to the press, encouraged the public to call state legislators to move the bills for further discussion. Gallardo said he's confident that if his bill made it to the senate floor there was a strong possibility it could pass.
"(SB1070) has been haunting the state of Arizona," Gallardo said. "This bill has put a black cloud ... and hurt Arizona's economy."
Now that these bills were entered this year at the beginning of the legislative sesssion, "I have a message to the president of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, 'What's your excuse now?'"
Gonzales said SB1070 continues to target people of color in Arizona, and has separated children from parents who've been detained or deported. Gonzales told the Range after the press conference that part of the problem are Republicans who agree with them, but have been threaten or coerced into keeping quiet so their own bills can get hearings or interests can be addressed.
"Most likely it won't pass in the House, but it has a chance in the Senate," Gonzales said. "There are several Republicans who understand the damage has caused the state."
Colleagues have asked them, with immigration reform discussed on a federal level, why repeal SB 1070? Gonzales said it would leave a law that allows racial profiling to exist.
Tucson attorney Isabel Garcia said it would also allow incidents to continue, such as the one Tucson experience last weekend, when Tucson activist Raul Alcaraz Ochoa was arrested trying to prevent Rene Meza Huertha from being taken in to custody by U.S. Border Patrol. Huertha was stopped by Tucson Police Department and the police called Border Patrol when they determined he was undocumented.
Last year, Tucson City Council declared Tucson an 'immigrant friendly city,' while immigrant rights activists have pointed out that it's hard to be that kind of city when TPD often calls Border Patrol at traffic stops despite the TPD leadership saying it would not target undocumented immigrants.
It was reported on Monday, Huertha, the father of six children, was deported on Monday.
Garcia said right now SB 1070 is being used as an excuse to target people and call Border Patrol. But it doesn't have to be that way. TPD, she said, can train it's officers to think and do differently in this age of SB 1070.