An immigration measure was placed on the ballot in Arizona

Republican lawmakers in Arizona voted Tuesday to put a ballot measure before voters in November that would make it a state crime to cross the border illegally from Mexico. The proposal It would give local police officers the power to arrest and imprison unauthorized immigrants, and allow state judges to order deportations.

While immigration has been a focus of campaigns across the country, the move is significant in Arizona because it puts the border crisis directly on the ballot in a swing seen as crucial in the presidential election.

Republicans are betting that it will galvanize anti-immigration conservatives and attract disaffected independents. And it could sit on a crowded ballot with another measure protecting abortion rights, which Democrats hope will draw more voters to their side.

The party won 31-29 on the line. In floor speeches, Democrats called it an ineffective and racially biased measure that would break up immigrant families and hurt the state’s economy and reputation. Republicans have focused on immigrants, who are blamed for the disproportionate number of deaths and murders, and have called the referendum measure a necessary response to an unchecked “invasion.”

“The federal government is out of control,” said Republican Rep. John Gillette. “We have to act.”

Outside the Capitol, immigrant-rights supporters waved “don’t hate” signs and shouted their opposition in a last-ditch effort to pressure lawmakers to kill the measure.

But the gallery inside the Arizona House was quiet and empty. Republican leaders took the unusual step of shutting it down, citing the risk of disruption. Democratic lawmakers accused Republicans of hiding from the public.

If voters pass the border enforcement measure in November, it would be a sharp U-turn for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in a state that has moderated its approach to immigration. Tests And traffic stops that critics criticize critics of racial profiling.

In recent years, Arizona voters have approved State education Rates for undocumented students and the 2016 impeachment of Mr. Arpaio and former President Donald J. They have rejected immigration hardliners like Trump.

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But Republicans say they hope voters are ready to embrace their new crackdown because they’re fed up with thousands of immigrants camped out along the border wall and a rising death toll from fentanyl smuggled across the border.

It has angered Democratic leaders and voters as well as Republicans in cities like New York and Chicago, and has become a major re-election liability for President Biden. On Tuesday, Mr. Biden issued an executive order that would allow the border to be closed during the crossing.

Opponents say the Arizona ballot measure will do nothing to improve border security or deter asylum seekers. Instead, they say it reflects the paranoia and turmoil Latino and immigrant communities have experienced since Gov. John Brewer signed SB 1070, a divisive state immigration-enforcement law passed by Republicans in 2010. The “Show Me Your Documents Act,” sparked protests and lawsuits over the years, and has since been partially struck down.

Arizona’s new ballot measure is similar to legislation passed by Republicans in Texas and Iowa that challenged the federal government’s exclusive authority to enforce immigration laws. There is the Biden administration Sued To block the Texas and Iowa laws, they were called unconstitutional.

Politicians from both parties said they expect to face legal challenges if voters pass the proposed Arizona law. Gov. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, has condemned the initiative, but she does not have veto power to prevent Republicans from sending the measure directly to voters.

The measure, which requires a simple majority of voters to pass, is called the Border Security Act. Along with the police rules, prison sentences would increase for anyone selling lethal amounts of fentanyl, and it would become a state crime for undocumented workers to provide false information to the E-Verify screening system.

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“It will definitely help attract Republican voters,” he said Mark is the lamb, a cowboy-hat-wearing sheriff from a conservative county south of Phoenix, is running in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. He was concerned about the measure’s price tag, but said he would ultimately vote for it.

Democratic activists said the immigration measure could backfire by hurting Latino voters and immigrant families and sparking a wave of opposition from suburban moderates worried about Arizona’s reputation and economy.

Arizona’s population is 32 percent Latino, and many voters still have fond memories of SB 1070.

On a recent 100-degree Saturday, dozens of Latinos gathered on the lawn outside the state Capitol to protest the measure, trading stories about how they lived in fear and paranoia under SB 1070 and saw immigration agents at their front doors. Shading their children under parasols and olive trees, they chanted the old farm workers’ union slogan “Sí se puede” — “Yes we can” — and urged their neighbors to start organizing to register voters and defeat the ballot.

“We’re dead set against it,” said Nieves Riedel, mayor of San Luis, a small Arizona city that sits directly next to the border wall. He said the city’s police force was already 57 officers short and could not handle the cost and time involved in arresting hundreds of migrants. Sheriffs and prosecutors say local courthouses and jails are overflowing.

“There’s only so much we can do,” Ms Riedel said. “Our guards and women are not federal agents. They are not trained. What will happen to our safety and security if they act like border guards?

Conservative Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels said Mr. He has been one of Biden’s staunchest critics, but said the border security ballot measure would be little more than a giant new job for his officials without new funding.

“How are we going to do this?” he said. “We don’t have a budget. We don’t have the resources.

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But conservative frontier ranchers like Fred Davis said Arizona had to do something. He often sees law enforcement officers chasing suspected human traffickers along the highway that bisects his ranch near Tombstone, and he often calls the Border Patrol to report migrants emerging from desert washes and thick brush near his property.

Republican lawmakers say the proposed law would allow local sheriffs to charge immigrants with illegal entry — a misdemeanor for a first offense and punishable by years in prison for anyone already charged with illegal entry.

“With the lack of border control, I feel like this is something the state needs to address,” said state Sen. Ken Bennett, a Republican who voted for the measure.

He said the law narrowly focuses on border enforcement and requires someone to be seen crossing the border or have a record to make an arrest.

“It doesn’t stop one within hundreds of miles of the interior of the state,” Mr. Bennett said. “You have to see them with your own eyes or have technical evidence.”

But immigrant-rights activists said another line of the law allowing “otherwise constitutionally sufficient” probable cause would give law enforcement officers free rein to arrest unauthorized immigrants anywhere in Arizona.

Immigrant activists are already rallying against the measure, but say they worry it could easily pass with many voters upset about the increase in immigration.

Irayda Flores, a Mexican-born Phoenix seafood importer, said she worried for years about losing her legal status as she fought for permanent residency. Now, he is distraught that his migrant workers or his son may face the same fears.

“We’re going back” to a bad time, he said. “The immigrant community, we pay taxes, we bring a lot to the table. And they treat us like criminals.

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