Arizona State Rep. Carl Seel Proposes Bill Criminalizing Use of Public Schools, Roads for Undocumented Immigrants

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Whether or not undocumented children should have access to public schools has long been debated. The U.S. Supreme Court has even ruled on the matter, saying that denying children access to public school violates the Fourteenth Amendment. It also struck down controversial parts of Arizona's SB 1070 law, effectively ruling that states do not have a right to enforce immigration laws beyond the current federal standard. However, neither of these rulings stopped Arizona State Rep. Carl Seel, R‐Phoenix, from proposing a bill that would not only deny undocumented immigrants access to public schools, but also to public parks and roads.

Seel’s proposal would deny access to all public resources for undocumented immigrants. Under his bill, if an undocumented immigrant were caught using a public park or enrolling his or her children in school, he or she would be charged with a misdemeanor for the first offense and felonies for all offenses thereafter. If the immigrant happened to be driving, the car would also be forfeited to the government.

Former Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce, Republican, authored the SB 1070 law and then tried to follow it up with an “omnibus” immigration bill that also would have denied undocumented immigrants access to the public school system, among other penalties similar to those found in Seel’s effort. Pearce was ousted from his Senate seat in a 2011 recall election.  

Seel, however, doesn’t seem worried about it. In an interview with KPNX, he said that this law is not anti-immigrant, but instead “would add a little bit more teeth to the court’s capacities” with respect not just to undocumented immigrants but also to unregistered sex offenders or out-of-state parole violators. Although, the KPNX reporter did point out that there would be warrants out for the convicted offenders.