POLITICS

Arizona Acting on More Bills That Go After Illegal Immigration

Marko Garduno, top right, holds a sleeping Dillon Garduno, 2 1/2, as they join dozens of others as they listen to Arizona lawmakers give their first hearing to a bill that challenges automatic U.S. citizenship for children of illegal immigrants, the state's latest foray into the national debate over illegal immigration at the Arizona Capitol, Monday, Feb. 7, 2011, in Phoenix.  The bill to be heard Monday by the Senate judiciary committee seeks a court interpretation on an element of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to people born in the U.S. who are "subject to the jurisdiction" of this country. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Marko Garduno, top right, holds a sleeping Dillon Garduno, 2 1/2, as they join dozens of others as they listen to Arizona lawmakers give their first hearing to a bill that challenges automatic U.S. citizenship for children of illegal immigrants, the state's latest foray into the national debate over illegal immigration at the Arizona Capitol, Monday, Feb. 7, 2011, in Phoenix. The bill to be heard Monday by the Senate judiciary committee seeks a court interpretation on an element of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to people born in the U.S. who are "subject to the jurisdiction" of this country. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)  (AP2011)

Its war on illegal immigration has wrought an economic boycott by numerous organizations, companies and people around the country, and legal challenges by civil rights groups and the Department of Justice.

But Arizona is far from backing off from its fight to reduce illegal immigration within its borders.

On Tuesday, a state legislative committee plans to consider a proposal that would challenge automatic U.S. citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants. The Senate Appropriations Committee also is scheduled to mull a bill that would require hospitals to confirm whether non-emergency patients are U.S. citizens or in the country legally.

Further, a bill introduced Monday would toughen the state's mandate that employers check the eligibility of new hires, tighten identification requirements for school enrollment and other public services, and make it a crime for someone in the United States unlawfully to drive a vehicle in Arizona.

The bill sponsored by Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, is to be considered Tuesday by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Pearce, the chief sponsor of the controversial SB1070 law that requires local law enforcement to check immigration status in some cases, and the state's employer sanctions law enacted in 2007, said the new measure is "just cleanup of existing statutes."

"It's mostly the taxpayer stuff," Pearce said, referring to previous state laws intended to prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving public benefits.

With Arizona's budget troubles driving proposals to reduce eligibility for the state's health care problem for low-income people, "the latest thing we need to do is have illegal aliens on (Medicaid) and other benefits, and that's most of what this is after," Pearce added.

Arizona’s dogged determination to fight illegal immigration made it a symbol of the frustration many state and local public officials say they feel over the federal government’s failure to address the presence of an estimated 11 million undocumented people in the country.

Arizona’s governor, Republican Jan Brewer, announced earlier this month that her state was suing the federal government for failure to protect Arizona’s border with Mexico and for failure to enforce immigration laws. 

At a news conference Brewer said: “We did not start this fight. But, now that we are in it, Arizona will not rest until our border is secured and federal immigration laws are enforced.”

Arizona’s action was a countersuit to the U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit challenging SB1070, portions of which did not go into effect after a judge blocked them.

Pearce’s latest bill would have the state suspend licenses of employers who don't submit proof that they have registered to use the federal E-Verify system. The state's 2006 employer sanctions law mandated participation but compliance has been spotty.

Another provision would make it a crime punishable by at least 30 days in jail to drive a motor vehicle in Arizona if in the U.S. illegally. Violations also would trigger vehicle forfeitures.

The bill also would spell out what documents can be used for school and university enrollment, and education officials would be barred from admitting students who cannot demonstrate lawful presence in the United States through use of the permitted documents.

Other provisions drop references in state laws to federal requirements on eligibility for Medicaid and other public benefits, impose new restrictions on issuance of motor vehicle documents and require at least 180 days in jail as part of any probation sentence for identity fraud.

The bill also would make an existing ban on bail for unauthorized immigrants accused of committing serious crimes apply to those accused of any felony, and it would ban state and local governments from accepting identification cards issued by foreign governments' consulates as identification.

This is based on a story by The Associated Press.

For more local Arizona coverage go to www.myfoxphoenix.com

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