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House passes HCR 2060, will put illegal border crossing criminal designation on the November ballot

Ballot measure would designate illegally crossing the border as a state crime
Border
Posted at 1:47 PM, Jun 04, 2024

PHOENIX — Arizona voters will now decide on a ballot measure that would allow local law enforcement to arrest people suspected of illegally crossing the border and local judges to issue deportation orders.

The Arizona House voted Tuesday to send House Concurrent Resolution 2060 to the general election ballot. Republicans have a one-vote majority in the chamber, and the measure passed on a party-line vote.

If approved by voters, HCR 2060 would make it a state crime to cross the Arizona-Mexico border outside of official ports of entry. Local law enforcement agencies would be able to make arrests, and local judges would be allowed to order those convicted to leave the country.

The Arizona Senate passed the measure on May 22 after amending it to specify that law enforcement must have probable cause – such as witnessing a crossing or having video evidence – to make an arrest. And the border-crossing provision will not apply to anyone who crosses the border without authorization before the law takes effect.

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The proposal is based on Texas Senate Bill 4, a law that similarly makes it a state crime to enter Texas illegally. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked implementation of it while lawsuits filed by the U.S. government and the ACLU are being heard.

The border-crossing provisions of HCR 2060 are dependent on the state of Texas prevailing in those cases. If passed by Arizona voters, those sections would become enforceable 60 days after the Texas law takes effect.

HCR 2060 was introduced on May 8 as a strike-everything amendment to a previously proposed ballot measure that would have greatly expanded Arizona’s laws around E-Verify, a federal database that checks employment eligibility.

In addition to making illegal border crossings a state offense, HCR 2060 includes provisions that make it a crime to submit false paperwork to state and local agencies when applying for public benefits or to an employer and strengthen the penalty for fentanyl sales in cases where someone has died.

Backers of the ballot measure say it is a border enforcement measure that won’t be enforced statewide. Opponents say it does not include any geographic restrictions tied to the border.

Critics have compared HCR 2060 to SB 1070, commonly known as the “Show Me Your Papers” law. Much of that 2010 Arizona law was thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court because it conflicted with federal law.

Governor Katie Hobbs released the following statement regarding the passage of HCR 2060:

“I’ve said it before and I will say it again: HCR 2060 will hurt Arizona businesses, send jobs out of state, make it more difficult for law enforcement to do their jobs, and bust the state’s budget. It will not secure our border. Despite strong opposition from business leaders, border law enforcement, and bipartisan local leaders throughout the state, extremists in the legislature have chosen to prioritize their political agendas over finding real solutions.

“Throughout my time in office, I have listened to the needs of border law enforcement and have done everything in my power to support their efforts to maintain a safe, secure, and humane border, which is why we allocated nearly $100 million to border communities to help increase capacity and upgrade vital technology, and launched Operation SECURE to strengthen coordination and bolster resources with the Arizona National Guard and the Arizona Department of Public Safety. What’s clear from my conversations with law enforcement on the ground is that HCR 2060 is not the answer.

“While I continue to prioritize public safety and make sure we are doing everything we can to keep our communities safe, Arizona cannot continue cleaning up the federal government’s mess. Today’s Executive Order announced by the Biden Administration is a critical tool for curbing unlawful entry and upholding humanitarian protections. However, we need comprehensive solutions and congressional support to secure our border.

“Congress must do its job. Our border patrol agents, immigration judges, and support services need more resources to manage this crisis effectively. The bipartisan border agreement reached earlier this year provided a clear path forward with critical reforms and investments. Yet, partisan politics have derailed these necessary measures. Congress must put aside partisan politics and prioritize the safety and security of our nation. Congress needs to do its job and deliver the comprehensive immigration reform that our country desperately needs.”

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