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Trespassing Measure May Target Undocumented Immigrants

The Senate voted this week for a measure that at least one foe says is a thinly disguised measure aimed at illegal immigrants. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

Existing law says individuals can be charged with trespass on private property if they ignore no trespass signs or refuse an owner's demand to leave. As approved, the legislation says the owner can instead simply call police who can ask the person to go or be arrested.

But Senator Steve Gallardo pointed out the original version crafted by Senator Gail Griffin permitted the arrest of anyone who did not already have actual written permission to be on private property. More to the point, it would have applied only within 100 miles of the border. "The underlining (sic) bill does mention the border," Gallardo said. "So I think we kind of have an idea of what the intent on the underlining (sic) bill was."

He said it was only after a Senate staff attorney declared a border-only law illegal that Griffin altered the measure. The move also comes after the U.S. Supreme Court last year voided several provisions of SB 1070, the 2010 law aimed at gibing police more power to deal with illegal immigrants.

Griffin argued her measure has nothing to do with illegal immigration. "This protects senior citizens, single mothers, other vulnerable people who would be putting themselves at risk if they leave their home to ask potentially dangerous criminals to leave their property," Griffin said.

But Griffin, who lives in Cochise County, acknowledged that the examples she has are all from her district, and all within 100 miles of the border.