A new Arizona immigration bill that some have called “SB 1070 on steroids” took its first step towards becoming law when it was approved by a key state legistative committee on Tuesday night. SB 1611, one of two immigration bills passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee, squeaked by with a 7-6 vote. It will now go up to the full state Senate for vote.
If signed into law, SB 1611 would deny all public benefits to undocumented immigrants in Arizona. It would also make proof of citizenship a requirement for those applying for public housing and vehicle registration as well as for public school enrollment from kindergarten through college. It would also make it illegal for undocumented immigrants to operate a motor vehicle in the state and make failure to enforce immigration laws a class 2 misdemeanor.
Earlier on Tuesday, the committee also passed SB 1308, which seeks Congress’ approval to create separate birth certificates for kids born to at least one parent with legal status and those born to undocumented parents—a system that would be a first nationwide. The aim of the bill, backers have said, is to force the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the 14th amendment, which grants automatic citizenship to any child born in the country.
Championed by Senate President Russell Pearce (R-Mesa), SB 1611 is one of several controversial bills aimed at undocumented immigrants that Arizona has taken up recently. The committee did not vote on Tuesday on two other bills: SB1309, which would define an Arizona citizen as someone who is a U.S. born or naturalized citizen, and SB1405, which would require hospital administrators to check citizenship status before admitting someone for non-emergency care.
Pearce says though many undocumented immigrants have fled the state because of SB1070—the 2010 bill that would give local cops the authority to ask for proof of citizenship to anyone they stop and which is tied up in courts—SB1611 is necessary to stop undocumented immigrants from draining the state’s coffers and stem the tide of “trained assassins” being sent from Mexico.
Latino groups have condemned SB1611—Somos Republicans, the largest Hispanic Republican grassroots organization in the country, said in an online statement that Pearce “continues to shred the Constitution of the United States as he wastes tax payer resources in using the Senate floor to serve as a show room when introducing laws that have an overt disdain of our Constitution.”