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Arizona Senate panel passes bill making it illegal to knowingly harbor people in the U.S. illegally

An Arizona Senate panel voted to make it a felony to knowingly harbor or transport someone in the country who isn’t in the United States legally. 

The bill is similar to an existing law, but increases the penalty. But attorneys signed a deal with the Department of Justice eight years ago to not enforce it. In return, the federal government would drop its challenge to Senate Bill 1070.

Sen. Martin Quezada Says the new measure risks being challenged by a federal court. 

"This was an agreement that the state of Arizona made knowing that this would have been struck down anyway. And so the fact that we're amending it and now we're going to ask to enforce it, yeah, we're putting ourselves right back into court. This is all that this is doing," Quezada said.

Bill sponsor Wendy Rogers says the measure is intended to be a tool for border sheriffs to use against smuggling. However, she did not acknowledge that the state signed an agreement not to implement any law on transporting people here illegally. 

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Greg Hahne started as a news intern at KJZZ in 2020 and returned as a field correspondent in 2021. He learned his love for radio by joining Arizona State University's Blaze Radio, where he worked on the production team.