Arizona Senate passes border ballot referral with changes, heads to House

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(The Center Square) – The Arizona Senate passed House Concurrent Resolution 2060 on Wednesday, and it will now go to the House for a vote.

The “Secure the Border Act” is primarily meant to make it a state crime to enter Arizona anywhere besides a legal port of entry. It passed 16-13 along party lines.

“This is their number one concern,” Sen. Janae Shamp, R-Surprise, said regarding Arizonans views on border issues.

Sen. Ken Bennett, R-Prescott, was not originally on board with the legislation, but an amendment added during the Committee of the Whole on Wednesday scrapped language creating confusion about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and language specifying what could be considered probable cause for arrest. The amendment was ultimately proposed as a floor amendment by Sen. David Gowan.

“We don’t want to harm any DACA recipients at all,” Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, said.

The bill now outlines probable cause as an officer witnessing the event or having a technological recording of it would classify as probable cause, but it also allows room for evidence that would be “constitutionally sufficient indicia,” which raised concerns from Democrats.

Sen. Priya Sundareshan, D-Tucson, said that if the constitutionally permissible option for evidence leaves open a wide door and “does underline the continuing concern and continuing fear that this opens up communities to racial profiling.”

Notably, the law would be considered prospective, meaning if it’s passed by the voters, it would only apply to people who broke the law after it takes effect. The bill is largely modeled after Texas Senate Bill 4, which is tied up in federal court. The Texas bill’s court success would largely depend on what provisions of the bill could legally take effect, namely making border crossings a state crime. As with any ballot referral, Arizona voters will the final say.

Sen. Anna Hernandez, D-Phoenix, called the passage of the ballot referral out of the Senate “shameful.”

“I think it’s sloppy, lazy and poorly written,” Sen. Eva Burch, D-Mesa, said.

However, changes to the bill could still be made in the House.

During the vote itself, activists from Living United for Change in Arizona, or LUCHA, began chanting “Stop the Hate” in the gallery. Senate President Petersen then began to tell them “shame on you” and the group went back and forth with Petersen as the protesters were escorted out of the gallery.

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