Frontera Fund News

Arizona’s 6 Anti-Immigrant Bills: What You Need to Know

Photo credit: Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund
Photo credit: Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund

On March 30, four women – two of them undocumented – chained themselves to the Arizona State Capitol Executive Tower as a crowd of protestors shouted “Veto hate!” 

They demanded that Governor Doug Ducey veto HB 2451, which lengthens sentences for prisoners facing deportation. The bill, which landed on Ducey’s desk earlier this week, is part of a wave of anti-immigrant bills proposed this legislative session.

The four women – Jessica Rubio and Adriana Garcia Maximiliano of Center for Neighborhood Leadership, Heather Hamel of Justice That Works, and Maria Castro of No DREAM Deferred – were arrested on charges of trespassing. Carlos Garcia, executive director of Puente, was also arrested as part of the protest. They were taken to Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Fourth Avenue Jail.

Rubio and Garcia Maximiliano are both undocumented. Despite Garcia Maximiliano’s DACA status and the judge’s recommendation that she be released, she is (as of March 31) in an ICE hold pending her transfer to ICE headquarters.

Before her arrest, Garcia Maximiliano stated, “I don’t want my little sisters to continue to grow up in a state that passed SB 1070-type laws. I don’t want my parents to be separated from us because of such laws… To my horror, today’s Arizona Legislature is repeating the sins of the past.”

The bills proposed this legislative session are “designed to strengthen SB 1070 and create two separate but unequal justice systems,” she added.

The week before, immigrant rights activists occupied the Arizona State Capitol to protest the anti-immigration legislation. Here’s what you need to know about the bills:

HB 2451 requires that undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes complete 85 percent of their sentences before they can be released to ICE for deportation. Currently, they can be released after serving 50 percent of their time if certain requirements are met.

Proponents of the bill basically say undocumented criminals should serve the sentences they were given, just like U.S. citizen criminals. But the bill will inflate an already filled-to-bursting prison system and could cost the state an extra $16.7 million a year. And for what purpose? Will it keep the state safer? No, because these inmates are going to be deported. Will it make them less likely to commit crimes in the future? No. Could $16.7 million a year be better used to educate people? Yes. 

Update: Apparently that didn’t convince Ducey, who on the afternoon of March 31 signed the bill.

SB 1377 would harshen sentences for undocumented immigrants who commit misdemeanors or felonies and make them ineligible for bail, probation, community supervision, or plea bargains. As of March 31, this bill is awaiting a House Appropriations Committee vote and final votes in the House and Senate.

HB 2223 and SB 1378 would both have punished so-called “sanctuary cities” – cities with policies to avoid prosecuting undocumented immigrants simply for being in the country illegally. These bills are pointless since there are no “sanctuary cities” in Arizona. Fortunately, the House did not schedule HB 2223 for a final vote. And as we wrote before, in February the Senate voted down SB 1378 the same week it narrowly shot down SB 1017, which would have derailed the Phoenix Municipal ID.

HB 2024 states that if a city or county is sued for failing to enforce federal immigration laws (i.e. is sued for being a “sanctuary city”) and wins the case, the court cannot award legal fees to that city/county. This bill currently needs a final Senate vote.

HB 2370 targets – surprise, surprise – refugees. It would prohibit Arizona from allocating financial or staff resources to any federal plan that brought refugees, unaccompanied undocumented minors, or any non-citizen to Arizona – unless the state conducted full background checks on each person and the federal government reimbursed the state. Fortunately, the House did not schedule this bill for a final vote.