Without a word of debate, the House on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a series of changes in state law designed to combat illegal immigration.
HB 2632 would allow police to arrest anyone who is in this country illegally and charge them with trespass, a state offense. That is designed to ensure that officers have clear legal authority to detain illegal immigrants.
Whether the provision is legal, though, remains to be seen.
Federal courts elsewhere have rejected similar laws from other states, saying only Congress can approve laws allowing the arrest of those who entered the country illegally. But Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, who has been behind much of the legislation aimed at illegal immigrants, said he believes it will be upheld if challenged.
The measure also seeks to overrule what Pearce has called “sanctuary policies.”
As approved Tuesday, it requires police to make a “reasonable attempt, when practicable,” to determine the immigration status of anyone they encounter as part of any “lawful contact” they make with an individual. That would override the practice in some communities where police do not raise such issues with crime victims and witnesses so as not to deter them from coming forward.
Another provision would make it a crime for a motorist to stop a vehicle on a road to hire or attempt to hire someone for a job elsewhere. Violators could go to jail for up to six months.
The same penalty would apply to those who look for work in a public place. That language is aimed at “day laborers,” some of whom are undocumented workers, who often congregate near home improvement stores.
HB 2632 would also make it a crime to transport, conceal or harbor someone who the person knows or recklessly disregards the likelihood is an illegal immigrant. That could make criminals out of family members of those who entered the country illegally.
A final roll-call vote will send the measure to the Senate which already has approved a virtually identical bill.