Arizona Public Radio | Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
State Capitol News

Bipartisan Group of Senators Unite to Defeat Package of Bills Aimed at Illegal Immigration


By Howard Fischer

Phoenix, AZ – The provisions covered all aspects of the issue. One said parents
would have to provide proof of citizenship when enrolling a child
in school. Technically speaking, it would not have precluded
anyone from attending, as the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled all
residents are entitled to public education regardless of legal
status. But Sen. Steve Gallardo said the document requirement,
coupled with current laws about what schools have to report to
police, could have resulted in some parents who are illegal
immigrants deciding not to enroll their children even the
youngsters are U.S. citizens.

(We have kids that are legal citizens right now that have the
right for an education. And the only thing this bill does iswould
put fear in the families of those that may have someone in their
family who's undocumented. It has nothing to do with the kids.)

But another part of the package WOULD have to do with kids. It
would have denied citizenship to children born in this country if
their parents are illegal immigrants. Senate President Russell
Pearce said the current practice of awarding citizenship to
anyone born in the United States is based on a misinterpretation
of the 14th Amendment. That says -- quote -- All persons born or
naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction
thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state
wherein they reside.

(It's nothing but amnesty through birth. It was never intended by
those laws. It was never intended by the founders or those who
wrote the 14th Amendment, and it needs to end.)

Pearce figured the new law would be challenged. He said that
would force the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that the location of
birth does not entitle someone to citizenship. But Sen. Adam
Driggs said this is not the way to resolve the issue.

(If you want to change the law, the law should be changed. And
that can be done with a constitutional amendment. And others
legitimately believe that Congress has the ability and power to
change this. But that would be the right venue.)

Some foes, like Sen. John McComish, said the attention paid to
immigration bills has become a distraction from more important
issues. He c ited a survey by a business group of its members
which found this issue is not the top priority for them.

(In fact, ahead of illegal immigration and what they believe is
important is the economy and job creation, public education,
state government spending and budget, crima and public safety,
health care, rising energy costs are all listed ahead of illegal
immigration in terms of where we should be focusing our efforts.)

And McComish noted that several dozen business leaders sent a
letter to legislators citing the boycott and hit to Arizona's
economy from passage of last year's immigration bill. They argued
that new moves in this direction would throw new barriers in the
path of economic development. Pearce was not impressed, saying
the letter writers do not reflect the will of the people. But
when all was said and done, all five immigration bills that
Pearce had either sponsored or supported went down to defeat. The
Senate president did not hide his disappointment -- or his
displeasure with foes of the bills, including colleagues.

(The only impediment to enforcing our laws is the lack of
political courage on the part of our elected and appointed
officials. YOU bear the burden and responsibility of the costs
and the maimings and the deaths. It's got to stop folks.)

Sen. Ron Gould, one of the supporters of the package, said the
refusal of lawmakers to adopt these bills leaves only one option:
Take the issue directly to voters. And there is reason to believe
that might be more successful. Every immigration measure put on
the ballot since 2004 has passed by wide margins. For Arizona
Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.