Tuesday, April 14, 2009

HB2331 bad for AZ local control, law enforcement

GOP Reps. Crump and Boone favoring state mandates, not local control.

PHOENIX -- With economic, job and budget troubles hurting Arizona, the House of Representatives failed to consider relief today. Instead we wasted time debating another unneeded bill, this time an anti-local control, anti-immigrant measure which seems aimed at southern Arizona.

HB2331 would ban cities, towns, counties and law enforcement agencies from passing ordinances or resolutions or adopting policies which supposedly limit enforcement of US immigration laws.

Reps. Tom Boone (R-Peoria) and Sam Crump (R-Anthem) are pushing this bill, and I think I understand their main reason. They are trying to drag local police and sheriffs in to required enforcement of immigration laws, which for good reasons most AZ police chiefs and sheriffs do not want, except Sherrif Joe Arpaio (R-Maricopa County).

State law is not blocking Arpaio from enforcing immigration law because he chooses to, so why should state law block other elected officials, sherrifs and local police from making a choice they think best for public safety in their communities?

Immigration law enforcement is a federal matter and responsibility, and failures in Washington to pass badly overdue and needed holistic immigration reform are not helping. Nevertheless, a state mandate forcing local law enforcement to get involved, by making it illegal for local governments or agencies to have policies on checking immigration status or calling Border Patrol, is unwise and would harm efforts to fight threatening crimes.

I represent a district in a big border county, unlike my friends Boone and Crump, and local law enforcement leaders I've worked with oppose doing immigration enforcement. One big issue is public trust, which is already a problem for some police and sheriff departments. If people are scared to talk with officers due to required immigration dragnets, it will be harder to get information to catch violent criminals and prevent and solve dangerous crimes.

Arizonans want economic justice, jobs and education, not more divisive anti-local control, anti-immigrant unfunded state mandates. A better approach would be for the legislature to urge congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform soon.

I urge my colleagues in the legislature to join me in voting no on HB2331.

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