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Arizona border bill stalls after Republican state senator opposes 'Dreamers' provision

The Arizona Senate intends to pass a border security measure next week, but that will require all the chamber’s Republican votes, and one GOP senator says he wants changes before he can get on board. 

Republican lawmakers are pushing a resolution that would make it a state crime to enter Arizona through any location other than a port of entry. That’s already illegal under federal law, but HCR 2060 would allow local law enforcement to enforce it.

In the current version of the bill, recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program — people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — could be charged for living in Arizona if the program is ever canceled. Republican Sen. Ken Bennett (R-Prescott) says he wants that changed.

“There was a nine-year window between 2012 and 2021 where people became DACA or received DACA status, and I don’t want anything in here that could be applied retrospectively,” he said.

The Republican measure is based on a law that recently passed in Texas and has been temporarily blocked from going into effect. Some Democrats have also likened the resolution SB 1070, the infamous “show me your papers” law passed by Republicans state lawmakers in 2010. Portions of that law were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court

The measure has no Democratic support, so Bennett’s vote is crucial if the measure is going to pass out of the Senate, where Republicans hold a one-vote majority

Democrats argue that the measure will allow rampant racial profiling and that it goes against federal law. 

Bennett said he’s concerned about racial profiling as well. 

“I'm concerned about whether or how we could improve the bill to make sure that the bill is used almost exclusively for the purpose that’s been described to all of us — and that is for border enforcement, not massive enforcement in the interior of the state where you would have a very difficult time coming up with probable cause that they actually entered directly into Arizona from a foreign country and not from a lawful port of entry,” he said. 

The measure is also opposed by Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, who vetoed a version of the legislation earlier this year. However, Republicans can bypass her veto stamp with a ballot referral that would give voters the option to approve or reject the law in November.

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Camryn Sanchez is a field correspondent at KJZZ covering everything to do with state politics.