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While Arizona GOP border security measure advances, federal proposal fails again

A day after Arizona state Republicans advanced a measure to put border security enforcement into local hands, a federal border bill failed to advance for the second time.

GOP lawmakers passed a measure through the Arizona Senate on Wednesday that would make it a state crime for a non-citizen to cross into the U.S. from Mexico outside of a port of entry. 

That’s already a federal crime, but Republicans argue the feds aren’t enforcing it. 

Republican lawmakers argue it is necessary to defend the border considering the federal government’s failure to act. Democrats warn that the measure is likely unconstitutional and claim that it will result in rampant racial profiling. 

The state-level measure will go on to a vote in the Arizona House and then, if passed, to voters in November. 

On Thursday, Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs expressed support for a bipartisan bill negotiated in part by Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema ahead of a federal vote. Hobbs said she hoped it would pass and be a better solution than what state Republicans propose.

“I'm hopeful that it actually has movement this time. It’s obviously a bipartisan bill, it’s stalled for political reasons,” she said. “It would solve a lot of the issues that we’re seeing in Arizona today.”

A few hours later, the federal bill had failed again, with Sinema herself voting against it. 

“I spoke here on the Senate floor twice in defense of our legislation,” Sinema said. “It turns out, my Republican colleagues were all talk and no action. Today, though, my Democratic colleagues have chosen more political theater instead of real efforts to solve this crisis. All talk and no action goes both ways.” 

Sinema said the vote was just for show and would discourage future bipartisanship. 

At the federal level in February, Republicans, Independents and Democrats came to an agreement which would have cracked down on border security, added funding to border patrol and altered asylum rules.

It failed after former President Donald Trump told supporters he opposed the bill. 

Democrats allege that Republicans abandoned the bill on Trump's orders because he thought it would hurt his election chances. 

Republicans on Thursday aimed the blame at President Joe Biden, arguing that he could already be doing more to increase border security if he wanted to.

The federal bill failed 49-50 the first time it came up for a vote. It got less support the second time around and died 43-50 on Thursday.

Get more Arizona politics news

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