The anti-sanctuary city resolution is one of a string of immigration-related bills opponents say is an effort to resurrect some of SB1070’s most discriminatory provisions.
Republican lawmakers forcibly removed immigration advocates from the Capitol Thursday night after the group called a proposal to constitutionally forbid sanctuary cities racially motivated.
The controversial resolution, SCR 1007, would require local governments in the state to comply with federal immigration laws and forbids them from restricting immigration officers in any way. Resolution sponsor Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, calls it a ban on sanctuary cities, but opponents fear it opens the door to racial profiling.
Members of the immigration rights group Latinos United for Change in Arizona spoke at Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, comparing the resolution to SB 1070. The 2010 bill brought national scrutiny over its strict enforcement of immigration laws. Darrell Hill, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, told lawmakers during the hearing that Allen’s resolution would be an expansion of the 2010 law.
The resolution is a fulfillment of Gov. Doug Ducey’s promise earlier this year to ban sanctuary cities in Arizona. Ducey did not specify what is considered a sanctuary city, and there are no legal definitions for the term at the federal level.
Opponents of the resolution say the language is too vague and would allow local law enforcement to play the role of federal enforcer. SB 1070 allowed local police similar privileges, including the power to demand immigration papers from anyone suspected to be in the country illegally. The “show me your papers” provision was removed in 2016 after lawsuits claimed the practice led to racial profiling.
“SCR1007 turns every part of Arizona’s government into immigration enforcers, destroying the trust between community and government,” Darrell said. He said the resolution would send the state to the “dark ages right after 1070 when political turmoil and fear gripped Arizona.”
But it wasn’t until the bill was accused of enabling racism that lawmakers began to fidget in their seats. Hugo Polanco, a lobbyist for LUCHA, told the committee that as the son of immigrants, he saw the damage caused by SB 1070 firsthand. Polanco said the new resolution had the same effects of enabling racism as the 2010 law.
“I’m going to caution you on the vitriol. There’s nothing racist about anybody up here,” committee Chairman Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, told Polanco. “I’m going to caution you. Testify, but you don’t need to be vitriolic.”
‘It’s because of immigrants.’
But remarks made by Allen as recently as last July have largely been decried as racist. During an event at the Arizona Republican Party offices in Phoenix, Allen called for more control in the immigration process to ensure Latino birthrates did not surpass white birthrates.
“We are not reproducing ourselves, the birthrates. But here’s what I see is the issue. It’s because of immigration,” Allen said at the time, adding that there “aren’t enough white kids to go around.”
In response to Farnsworth’s warning, Polanco told the committee: “SB1070 ripped my family apart. Reject this racist, divisive and hateful legislation.”
At that, Farnsworth cut off Polanco, sparking outcry from the crowd. Activists drowned out the sound of Farnsworth banging his gavel, chanting, Let him speak! Let him speak!”
Farnsworth called for a recess. He then called for Department of Public Safety officers, and had 10 people in attendance removed from the hearing room.
After removing the activists, Farnworth called the resolution to a vote. It passed along party lines.
If approved by the state legislature, the resolution will be voted on later this year.