Arizona Capitol

Immigration Bills in Queue at State Senate; Mesa's Russell Pearce Planning All-Out Push Against Illegals

The typical roster of proposed laws has been postponed this year as lawmakers try to finalize a budget, but plenty of interesting bills are hiding in the wings.

A long list of bills targeting illegal immigrants, for example, is being pushed by Mesa's conservative State Senator Russell Pearce (pictured). In a recent letter to supporters published by the Sonoran Alliance, Pearch says "now is the time to make your concerns and wishes known." He's certainly right about that -- and here are some of the bills you should know about:

SB1160 vehicle title; registration; legal presence (requested by law enforcement) This bill would put the same requirements on titling or registering a vehicle of legal presence as required to get a drivers license. Will have a tremendous affect on illegals driving around illegally. According to law enforcement a large percentage of hit and runs and serious and fatal accidents are involving illegal aliens.

SB1172 schools; data; non citizen students This is needed to really know how many illegal aliens and non citizens are in our school. It does not prevent them from attending, but the debate continues on how many are really in our K-12 system at a cost of $9700 per student. The taxpayer has an inherent right to know who they are paying for.

SB1173 public housing; legal presence Requires proof of citizenship to get public housing.

SB1175 illegal aliens; enforcement; trespassing. (remove handcuffs from law enforcement - Supported by Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, Sheriff Joe, County Attorney Thomas, Border Patrol 2544, law enforcement, Republican Party, and others)

SB1177 unauthorized aliens; employment; application; transporting (a good fix to the day labor problem) This bill makes it a misdemeanor to solicit employment and makes it a state crime to employ them and requires anyone transporting them for purposes of work to have their vehicle impounded for a mandatory 30 days.

SB1334 workers' compensation; unauthorized aliens No workers compensation for illegal aliens. An employer who illegally employees them must be totally responsible for any injuries. This is needed because of a silly Arizona Supreme Court ruling.

SB1335 unauthorized aliens; licensing ( an enhancement to the Employer Sanctions bill) This strengthens our Employer Sanctions bill (by the way we just won for the 5th time in court) This puts more teeth in requiring businesses to sign up for E-Verify and gives the County Attorney's civil subpoena authority to look at personal files of a business if the info that gives reasonable cause to believe they have illegal aliens employed (we will get a ton of resistance to leadership to not give this bill a hearing)

SB1337 driver license violations (a law enforcement request and just puts it back to how it use to be) Makes not having a drivers license a misdemeanor so they can arrest them. Today they cannot because it is a civil penalty. If they are lying, no ID, speak no English and they know they are a gang member or an illegal alien they must let them go. If you have a drivers license and just don't have it on you it will not affect you.

It looks like Pearce is planning an all-out legislative war against illegal immigrants and those who would employ, school, or shelter them. He's even planning to go up against the Republican powers who enjoy the benefits of cheap labor, juding by his comment about the challenges of the E-Verify bill.

While some of the ideas may have merit (what's that -- you disagree?), Pearce's outright belligerence toward illegals rings loudly in his legislative round-up. Providing worker's compensation to illegal immigrants hurt on the job may be expensive, but it doesn't seem humane to call a ruling that protects the practice "silly."

We also question the hidden civil rights issues in these bills. For example, the bill that would determine how much it costs the state to school illegal immigrant kids seems problematic, considering that schools aren't legally allowed to ask the immigration status of students.

Pearce is obviously trying to build a slope -- and hoping it turns out very slippery.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.