Arizona’s state Senate yesterday defeated five extreme anti-immigrant bills, including two aimed at provoking the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the constitutional definition of citizenship, and three more that would have required hospitals, schools, public housing administrators, and DMV officials to become immigration enforcers:
One of the rejected bills would have required hospitals to contact federal immigration officials or local law enforcement if people being treated lack insurance and can't demonstrate legal status.
Critics said that would burden hospitals, but Republican Sen. Steve Smith of Maricopa said his bill didn't require much.
"Maybe you forgot it's illegal to be in this country illegally," he said during the vote on his bill. "We just ask them to report the crime, not be the judge and executioner."
Also defeated was a bill to require schools to file reports on enrollments of illegal immigrant students.
The fifth bill was a sweeping measure sponsored by Pearce. It would have made it a crime for illegal immigrants to drive in Arizona. It also had provisions on registering vehicles, workplace hiring and various public benefits.
It would ban illegal immigrants from attending Arizona's public universities and community colleges. The state does not now have a ban but it does require illegal immigrants to pay higher, non-resident tuition rates.
Pearce's bill also would have required eviction of public housing tenants who let illegal immigrants live with them and make applicants for vehicle titles and registration prove they are in the country legally.
Arizona has in recent months led the way in extremist anti-immigrant measures, including passing last year’s SB 1070, which would have required racial profiling by state police. Parts of that bill were temporarily blocked by a judge as the bill is appealed.
That these five bills couldn’t make it through the Arizona Senate shows the power of the backlash against such harsh—and possibly illegal—measures.