Democratic governor of Arizona vetoes Republican-backed border law

Phoenix — Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed an Arizona law that would have criminalized noncitizens entering the state through Mexico other than a port of entry.

On party lines, the Republican-controlled Legislature passed the proposal late last month. Arizona is a popular illegal border crossing destination, and the bill would have allowed local police to arrest non-U.S. citizens who enter illegally. Top-tier misdemeanors or low-level felonies for second offenses are violations.

Hobbs wrote to Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen on Monday that the proposal presented constitutional concerns and would result in costly litigation. “This bill does not secure our border, will harm our communities and businesses, and burdens law enforcement and the state judicial system,”

The action comes as Republicans in numerous states, including Texas, tout strict immigration laws ahead of the presidential election. Republican Sen. Janae Shamp said the veto “is a prime example of the chaos Hobbs is unleashing in our state while perpetuating this open border crisis as Biden’s accomplice.

Unauthorized immigration is illegal under federal law. However, Arizona and Texas Republicans claim the U.S. government is not doing enough and require more state authorities. Republican politicians in Arizona have tried to penalize undocumented migrants before.

In its historic 2010 immigration measure, the Arizona Legislature proposed criminalizing immigrants' presence and imposing criminal penalties for trespassing. However, cops must now ask illegal immigrants' immigration status while enforcing other offenses, replacing the trespassing wording.

Despite critics' racial profiling concerns, the U.S. Supreme Court maintained the questioning requirement, although other provisions of the bill were blocked. A national outcry followed the measure, with proponents asking for similar laws in their states and opponents calling for an economic boycott of Arizona.

In recent years, courts have overturned several Arizona immigration legislation. Another Legislature proposal this year would submit the issue to voters as a ballot measure, bypassing Hobbs' veto power. The idea would force towns and counties that receive state funding for welfare programs to use a federal job verification database to check if recipients are legal U.S. residents and remove them from the program.

It would also make it a low-level crime for companies, who are already required by Arizona law to utilize the database when recruiting new employees, to decline to use it when they know an employee is illegally in the country. The plan passed the state House. The Arizona Senate hasn't acted on the measure.

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