border wall gap
Bill Makes Illegal Entry In U.S. A Felony In Arizona

March 1, 2024

By Daniel Stefanski |

A bill to combat the illegal immigration crisis at America’s southern border is one step closer to Arizona Governor Hobbs’ desk.

Last week, the Arizona House of Representatives passed HB 2748, which was sponsored by State Representative Joseph Chaplik. According to the overview provided by the chamber, the legislation “establishes penalties and enforcement against illegal border crossings.”

All 31 Republicans voted in favor of the proposal, while all 28 Democrats voted in opposition. One seat was vacant at the time of the vote.

“The Biden administration’s abject refusal to uphold federal immigration laws is anti-American,” Representative Chaplik said. “It is directly responsible for catapulting our southern border into a state of chaos and facilitating an invasion unprecedented in scale and severity. Democrats at every level are working overtime to keep America’s borders open and unsecure, and Americans should demand to know why.”

Chaplik’s colleague, Representative Rachel Jones added, “Arizonans will come out in droves to vote for elected officials who are listening to them on the #1 issue of concern, THE BORDER CRISIS. To my colleagues on the left, the people don’t believe your gaslighting and rhetoric anymore. Americans want to feel safe in their own country.”

According to the press release from the Arizona House Republican Caucus, the “key provisions” of the bill include the following:

  • Establishing a class 1 misdemeanor (or a class 6 felony for subsequent offenses) for individuals entering Arizona from a foreign country as aliens, except through legal ports of entry
  • Imposing a class 1 misdemeanor for aliens re-entering the U.S. through Arizona if they were previously deported, excluded, or left while a deportation or exclusion order was pending
  • Elevating the offense to a class 3 felony if the alien was removed due to multiple drug misdemeanors, federal inadmissibility, terrorism involvement, or removal following a nonviolent crime
  • Elevating the offense to a class 2 felony if the alien was removed after committing a felony
  • Providing for an order of return for aliens violating the law, with failure to comply constituting a class 2 felony
  • Granting immunity from civil liability for local and state government officials, employees, and contractors enforcing the law, with indemnification for civil actions under federal law
  • Mandating the Arizona Attorney General to pursue all available remedies to recover federal reimbursements for state costs incurred due to illegal immigration.

In pointing to the urgent need for state action to combat the border crisis, Chaplik’s communication also pointed to the following facts on the ground:

  • Cartels are cutting holes in border fencing and controlling cross-border activity.
  • 169 immigrants on the terrorist watch list tried to cross the southern border in the past year
  • 24,000+ Chinese nationals were apprehended crossing into the U.S. from Mexico
  • Over 150,000 gang members from Central and South America
  • Over 7 million illegal crossings in the last 3 years, and more than 1 million in the last 4 months.

HB 2748 will now be considered by the Arizona Senate. If approved by the Senate, the bill stands no chance of being signed into law by Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs, who, although she has recently increased the sharpness of her rhetoric against the federal government’s handling of the border crisis, has not agreed with most – if not all – of Republicans’ solutions to solve the lawlessness from a state level. In fact, legislative Republicans pointed out multiple times that Hobbs vetoed border-related bills in 2023, though she attempted to talk tough about the crisis in her January State of the State address.

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

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