Arizona lawmakers have passed one out of three pieces of legislation impacting immigrants in the country illegally. The bills were the state’s first to concern illegal immigration since the controversial SB 1070 of 2010.
On Feb. 22, the Arizona Senate passed what has been called “Grant’s Law,” which was presented by Republican Sen. Steve Smith of Maricopa. The bill would require Arizona courts to punish immigrants in the country illegally to the fullest extent of the law and not grant parole if they are convicted of serious crimes.
The bill was inspired by the January 2015 shooting death of convenience store clerk Grant Ronnebeck, who was gunned down by a man on probation who was not in the country legally. The motivation for the slaying was reportedly that Ronnebeck had been taking too long to fetch the shooter’s cigarettes, according to Your West Valley.
Ronnebeck’s father was present for the senate vote.
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“It’s a good first step in the right direction of protecting families like his,” Smith said of Grant’s Law, according to Fox News Latino.
Democratic Sen. Martin Quezada of Phoenix protested the measure, stating that it was unnecessary and discriminatory.
“To single out this one particular situation, what we are doing is making a political point,” Quezada said. “We are grandstanding here.”
Smith had proposed a second piece of legislation that would have barred “sanctuary cities” from receiving state funds. These areas have been accused of providing a welcoming environment for people in the country illegally by ignoring state penalties.
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Democratic Sen. Catherine Miranda of Phoenix slammed the bill as toxic for Arizona’s national reputation. She stated that Smith’s bill would be as controversial as the 2010 Arizona law that required law enforcement to check legal statuses.
“We’re jeopardizing our economy,” Miranda said.
Immigration has been a sore subject for Arizona lawmakers since SB 1070 drew national controversy.
On Feb. 15, protesters had gathered before the state capitol to decry the passing of any legislation targeting immigrants in the country illegally.
“We’re sending a very big warning that we’re not going to stand for this,” Francisca Porchas of the Puente Movement told KTVK.
The bill targeting sanctuary cities failed to pass along with legislation that would have barred people in the country illegally from receiving city-issued identification cards.
Republican Sen. Bob Worsley of Mesa voted for Grant’s Law but against the other two bills because they strongly echoed "symbolically chasing people around if they can't show papers."