Arizona Introduces “Omnibus” Immigration Bill

Thought SB 1070 was bad? This is worse.

By Julianne Hing Feb 22, 2011

SB 1070 should watch out. Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce has a new pet that he’s nurturing, a bill numbered SB 1611 that, if passed, would likely take SB 1070’s place as the symbol of harsh anti-immigrant legislation.

The bill, which the state senator called an "omnibus" immigration bill, the Arizona Capitol Times reported, would bar children from K-12 education if they couldn’t produce a U.S.-issued birth certificate or naturalization document. It would forbid undocumented immigrants from driving in the state or accessing public benefits. Folks who are caught driving would face a month of jail time and would have to turn over the car they’re driving.

The bill also seeks to crack down on the immigrant community’s allies by making it a Class 1 misdemeanor if a public employee failed to report violations of national immigration laws–such a violation is currently a Class 2 misdemeanor. Identity theft would result in 180 days of jail time. SB 1611 would also bar undocumented immigrants from enrolling in community colleges, entirely. It also requires Arizona businesses to use E-Verify, a federal immigration database rife with holes and flaws. Lastly, SB 1611 would require that the state attorney general sanction any business that does not make use of the database. Companies would be forced to get with the program or face suspension of their business license.

Pearce introduced the legislation Monday afternoon.

"This is clean-up,” Pearce told Capitol Media Services. SB 1611 was approved by a rules committee yesterday and is set for a hearing today.

SB 1611 joins a host of other anti-immigrant bills that Arizona immigrant rights groups are trying to fight back. Arizona is also considering legislation that would force hospitals to demand a person’s immigration papers before they could be granted non-emergency care, and is considering a separate birthright citizenship bill that would only give a new state birth certificate to those born in Arizona who had at least one green card-holding or citizen parent. The two birthright citizenship bills, SB 1308 and 1309, and SB 1405, which Border Action Network says "attempts to turn hospital workers into immigration officers," are set to be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee today at 2pm.

A coalition of immigrant rights groups including Puente, Somos America, the Arizona Advocacy Network and Border Action Network is organizing a gathering outside the Arizona State Capitol to respond to these bills.