Hobbs vetoes GOP bill to usurp enforcement of federal immigration laws

Gov. Katie Hobbs issued a stinging
rebuke to Arizona Republicans on Monday, wielding her veto stamp to
reject a GOP priority proposal that sought to give the state the power
to arrest and deport migrants. 

The veto is Hobbs’ first for the 2024 legislative session, following a recording-breaking 143 issued last year,
and further cements a contentious relationship with the Republican
legislative majority, which championed the proposal as a party
priority.

Titled the “Arizona Border Invasion Act,” Senate Bill 1231
would have made it a class 1 misdemeanor to cross the state’s southern
border anywhere but at the ports of entry and allowed local police
officers to arrest migrants suspected of violating the act. Those
convicted of a first offense would have faced a six-month jail sentence
unless they agreed to return to Mexico voluntarily. 

While Republican lawmakers repeatedly
pointed to Hobbs’ criticism of the Biden administration’s immigration
policies as an indicator that she might support their proposal, that
hope didn’t come to fruition. In a veto letter,
Hobbs echoed the criticism of immigrant rights groups and businesses,
saying it was the wrong move for Arizona and would only lead to legal
challenges. 

“This bill does not secure our
border, will be harmful for communities and businesses in our state, and
burdensome for law enforcement personnel and the state judicial
system,” she wrote. “Further, this bill presents significant
constitutional concerns and would be certain to mire the State in costly
and protracted litigation.” 

A near-identical law in Texas is
currently being challenged by the U.S. Department of Justice over its
unconstitutionality, and has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Arizona has previously attempted to
enforce immigration law and weathered lawsuits because of it. In 2010,
the U.S. Supreme Court struck down three of four provisions in SB1070,
the state’s notorious “show me your papers” law that allowed local
police officers to detain and investigate people suspected of being in
the country illegally. The high court ruled that enforcing immigration
law is under the sole and supreme authority of the federal government. 

Republicans slammed the governor’s
action, accusing Hobbs of “unleashing chaos” on the state and denouncing
her as an “accomplice” of Biden. 

“The Legislature did its job to
protect our citizens, but Governor Hobbs failed to do hers,” Sen. Janae
Shamp, the bill’s sponsor, said in an emailed statement. “Arizonans want
and deserve safe communities. Our local, county, and state law
enforcement officers are pleading for help, and they support this
legislation to protect our citizens.”

No law enforcement agencies
registered in support of the measure or showed up to voice approval of
it during committee hearings. 

The Republican from Surprise added
that Hobbs’ veto disrespects law enforcement officials and victims of
crime across the state, equating migrants with criminals. 

“This veto is a slap in the face to
(law enforcement), Arizona’s victims of border-related crimes, and other
citizens who will inevitably feel the wrath of this border invasion in
one way, shape, or form at the hands of Hobbs and Biden,” Shamp said. 

Immigrant and human rights organizations lauded Hobbs’ veto, criticizing the measure as an extension of SB1070. 

Noah Schramm, the border policy
strategist for the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberties
Union, celebrated the veto and said the proposal would only have led to
widespread racial profiling. 

“Just like its predecessor, SB1070,
this bill would have illegally side-stepped protections guaranteed under
federal law, led to even greater harassment of communities of color,
and advanced a dishonest and dangerous narrative about immigrants in our
state,” he said in an emailed statement. “Legislation like SB1231 has
no place in Arizona where immigrants are our friends, family, and
neighbors; but rather than protecting Arizona communities, extremist
lawmakers are only concerned with inciting hateful divisions” 

Alejandra Gomez, the executive
director of Living United for Change in Arizona, a pro-immigrant
advocacy group that has voiced strong opposition to the bill, said the
measure was the wrong response to a humanitarian crisis. 

“Today we thank Gov. Hobbs for
striking a major blow to Arizona Republicans’ attempt to bring in a new
era of anti-immigrant hate and legalized racial profiling to our state.
SB1231 doesn’t solve the humanitarian crisis at the border, and it would
have inflicted tremendous harm to Arizona communities,” she said.