Arizona Lawmakers Introduce Bills To Support Law Enforcement On Border

January 28, 2024

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona Senate Republicans have a plan to mitigate the effects of the crisis at the southern border.

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans held a press conference to announce their proposals to “provide law enforcement the support they need to defend our citizens against these threats.”

One of the bills Republicans will seek to pass through the legislature, the Arizona Border Invasion Act, is sponsored by Senator Janae Shamp. According to the Senate Republicans’ news release, this legislation would grant local, county, or state law enforcement officers the statutory authority to make arrests of three categories of individuals:

  • any non-US citizens who enter [Arizona] from anywhere but a lawful entrance point
  • any non-US citizens who have been denied entry, or have already been removed from [the United States]
  • any non-US citizens who have been ordered to leave because of one of the above crimes but are refusing to comply with the order.

The other bill highlighted by Republicans was Senator David Gowan’s Aggravated Unlawful Flight Act, which would “create tougher penalties for drivers who endanger the life of another person while attempting to flee law enforcement, prompting a high-speed chase.” Additionally, Senator Gowan’s bill would “create greater penalties against drivers who cause harm to another person during a high-speed chase, or those who are transporting a child under the age of 15.”

“Joe Biden and his administration have made it unequivocally clear that they have abandoned their duties to enforce immigration policy at the federal level,” said Senator Shamp. “As a result, our communities and our citizens are suffering the dire consequences of the lawlessness associated with tens of thousands of people, many of whom are criminals, illegally entering our state each month with no repercussions. It is our duty as state legislators to ensure the safety of our citizens and our law enforcement, which is why I’m calling on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense legislation.”

“This is the worst border crisis in U.S. history. Our local sheriffs are overwhelmed, outnumbered, and their lives are in danger,” said Senator Gowan. “Our communities are suffering from the deadly fentanyl, rapes, murders, high-speed chases, kidnappings, human smuggling, child sex trafficking, and other heinous crimes carried out by those who are entering our state illegally. We can’t just sit idly by and watch Biden’s border invasion destroy Arizona. I’m urging members of the Legislature to pass our bills and for the Governor to sign them. Lives are on the line, and the hands of our local law enforcement are currently tied.”

Both Republicans and Democrats realize the importance of dealing with the historic crisis at the border, though members of both parties generally have vastly different opinions about the solutions. At the start of this new legislative session, the border was a central theme in Governor Katie Hobbs’ State of the State address. Hobbs asserted that she “delivered on multiple fronts to help mitigate the crisis, including the launch of Operation SECURE and the creation of a Border Coordination Office within the Arizona Department of Homeland Security.

Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma immediately released a video in the aftermath of the governor’s address, responding to the issues she raised to onlooking legislators. Toma argued that despite Hobbs’ attempt to make Arizonans “believe she’s all about securing our border and ending the lawlessness caused by Joe Biden’s immigration system…her record is one of open borders…and she’s continued that approach as governor.” Petersen talked about “major mistakes” from Hobbs by vetoing three bills in particular “that would have kept families safe from drugs and crime.”

During 2023, the first year of a rare, divided government in the Grand Canyon State, legislative Republicans consistently pointed out that the reality with the border crisis could have been more daunting for Arizonans if not for their check on Democrats. When Hobbs signed the state budget compromise in May, Petersen noted his members “prevented the Governor and Democrat Legislators from advancing their extremist agenda,” and promised “we’re not getting rid of state-funded border security resources to keep our communities safe.” Despite Hobbs’ efforts to be perceived as taking the border crisis seriously in the new year, she is unlikely to work with legislative Republicans on much – if any – fixes to help mitigate the lawlessness and consequences for affected communities, likely spelling doom for the two recently introduced border bills should the legislature send the proposals to the Governor’s Office.

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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