Feathered Bastard

Russell Pearce's Bigoted Bill, the ACLU Analysis; Republicans Claim Bill Won't Come Up This Week

The ACLU of Arizona has issued a blunt analysis of state Senator Russell Pearce's SB 1070/HB 2632, which gives the brass tacks on why and how the bill is unconstitutional and the impact of the legislation. For those unfamiliar with Pearce's new anti-immigrant bill, it offers a good overview, and for those acquainted with the bill, it gives a disturbing reminder of what's at stake.

You can read the entire analysis, here. Though the bill is broad and troubling for a lot of reasons, the ACLU's read on the provision to make it a "trespassing" offense to be in Arizona sans documents particularly hits home:

"This provision is a back door attempt to create the state arrest authority for immigration violations described above, without any training or supervision by federal authorities. This attempt will likely be invalidated by the courts because it violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution grants the federal government exclusive power to regulate our borders and, with very few exceptions, states are not free to create their own laws regulating immigration. We are not aware of any state or town that has passed a statute enumerating illegal presence as a state crime."

The ACLU also finds the bill's grant of authority for local cops to conduct, "warrantless arrests of persons for whom the officer has probable cause to believe have committed any act that makes those persons deportable" to be contrary to rulings of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

For those police agencies who do not toe the Russell Pearce line, they face the prospect of being sued by some right-wing nut. Regarding that possibility, the ACLU notes that,

"This [provision] subjects local governments to unreasonable and potentially frivolous litigation by private citizens with an anti-immigrant agenda. Even if a municipality is vindicated in court, it will still have to incur the costs of defense."

House Republican spokesman Paul Boyer told me today that the bill is not expected to come to the floor of the state House this week, but that next week is more likely.

I do hear whisperings from others that things are happening behind the scenes, mostly on the GOP side of the aisle, to stall the bill, maybe even send it back to committee as the brain trust running the MAPS committee where HB 2632 was heard, cut off debate by only allowing for two minute comments from most speakers other than Russell Pearce.

Border Action Network still plans to storm the Capitol tomorrow, and lay siege to the Governor's office, urging her to veto the measure once it makes her desk. The bills ultimate passage and a signature from the Governor still seems likely, however.

The Republicans have a problem, though. Sure, officially, they're supposed to be on Pearce's side, but the general populace is more concerned with the economy and the budget, for obvious reasons. 

A focus on backwards, ideological, hate-filled measures such as those emanating from a neo-Nazi-hugger like Pearce won't help the GOP in the general election, when voters will be wondering why there are no funds for education, or for state rest stops, even.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons