New immigration bill expands I.D. requirements
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – The sudden introduction of SB 1611, a new immigration omnibus bill, has raised new fears by immigrant rights advocates who claim it will further polarize the state and damage economic recovery.
The 30-page bill, introduced by Senate President Russell Pearce, mandates that employers check immigration status, tightens identification requirements for school enrollment and makes it crime to drive a vehicle in Arizona if in the United States unlawfully.
For people like Nadia del Callejo, SB 1611 would make it nearly impossible for her to work and go to school.
"I'd be considered what they heinously call anchor babies," said del Callejo. The 27-year-old was born in the U.S. to parents who came here illegally 28 years ago.
Under SB 1611, private employers and public school officials who fail to properly verify immigration status would also face criminal charges.
"And so we just couldn't look at it as an attack on Latinos," said del Callejo. "And so I think we're going to see bigger protests and a lot more civil disobedience."
Immigration Attorney Richard Martinez, who sued the state over SB 1070 on behalf of Tucson cop Martin Escobar, is confident SB 1611 is headed for another showdown in federal court. Nine On Your Side Reporter Steve Nuñez asked Martinez why he feels it's also wrong for school officials to properly verify a student's immigration status.
"It's unconstitutional," responded Martinez. He explained that a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Plyler vs. Doe, says a state can't deny public education based on a student's immigration status.
"And I suspect that voting for Latinos would become more difficult because it would be challenging in terms of their legitimacy to vote," said Martinez.
Immigration law expert John Messing believes SB 1611 further expands the federal requirement to be legal in the U.S., and that could lead to cuts in federal funding. In particular, he points to cuts to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, which is the state's voter mandated free health insurance program. Right now, the feds provide about two-thirds of the funding for anyone living below the federal poverty level of about $18,300 for a family of three.
"ACCCHS and Medicaid are very large programs we've seen that with regard to the organ (transplant) issues that have come up, I think we're talking about important segments of state financing," said Messing.
If SB 1611 passes and becomes law, del Callejo is positive it will cause more civil unrest, especially in a city that's looking to tone down the rhetoric by local and state politicians. Nuñez asked del Callejo why she says SB1611 would create a culture war.
"They're trying to wipe out who people are and not just the people themselves," Del Callejo said.
Under SB 1611, the state would also slap private and public employers with a misdemeanor crime if they fail to comply with enforcing the immigration law. As for police officers? The law is written to give the state power to revoke officers' certifications or take away their badges if they refuse to enforce the law.