PHOENIX, Arizona — A wave of bills aimed at criminalizing undocumented immigrants in Arizona have failed in the state legislature. Divisive budget discussions and a split in the Republican Party, which holds the majority in the legislature, have been cited as reasons for the defeats. But local human rights activists, who organized opposition to the bills, are taking some of the credit as well.
Arizona has been called a “laboratory for anti-immigrant laws” for the rest of the nation. In 2007, the state adopted one of the country’s toughest employer sanctions laws for companies that knowingly hire undocumented labor.
But this year saw the failure of some 27 bills aimed at clamping down on immigrants. “We did extremely well this year, dealing with the anti-immigrant legislation, it’s the most successful year we had,” said Democratic legislator Ben Miranda, who voted against the proposals.
He credits the defeat, in part, to the split between Republican legislators and Gov. Jan Brewer over budget issues.
As divisive budget discussions were coming to an end a flood of anti-immigration bills were introduced, with Republican State Sen. Russell Pearce at the helm of the effort.
Pearce introduced 17 of the bills, ranging from a proposal to eliminate what he called “sanctuary policies” that keep local police from inquiring about a person’s immigration status to a measure requiring school districts to ask their students about their immigration status.