Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce has placed new immigration bills on hold to make time for discussion of the state’s budget proposals, but they could be moving toward a final Senate vote soon.
The variety of bills dealing with immigration include measures to deny citizenship to those born to illegal immigrants in Arizona, deny public services to illegal immigrants and require proof of citizenship to receive hospital care.
Pearce, a Republican senator from Mesa, is known for backing legislation that cracks down on illegal immigrants and was the sponsor of Senate Bill 1070, a controversial immigration bill signed into law last April.
As Senate president, Pearce is in charge of assigning bills to committees and setting the body’s agenda.
Pearce had the Senate Rules Committee review the immigration measures Tuesday, and The Associated Press reported that the bills would be moving forward to a full Senate vote soon, though no specific date was set.
Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, said Pearce held the bills so the Senate could focus on reviewing a new budget proposal being moved through the House this week.
“[The immigration bills] get a lot of debate when going through committee, and we don’t have time to spend on them right now,” Gould said.
He said that generally when a bill is being “held,” it usually means the bill is dead, but “that’s not what we’re talking about here.”
Gould sponsored two of the bills on hold — Senate bills 1308 and 1309. Both would deny citizenship to a person born in Arizona who is not a child of at least one parent who is a legal U.S. citizen.
Another bill on hold is SB 1611, legislation that requires Arizona residents to show proof of citizenship to obtain any public benefit. It also makes it a crime for an illegal immigrant to drive.
Several senators are also backing SB 1405, which requires hospitals to verify a person’s citizenship if admitted into the hospital for emergency or nonemergency care.
“[SBs] 1308, 1309 and 1611 I think in the end will all get out of the Senate and go to the House,” Gould said.
Since Friday, hundreds of protesters, most of them high-school-age, have been chanting and marching outside the Capitol expressing their opposition to the immigration bills.
Jamie Farrant, policy director of the Border Action Network, said he feels the bills might have been held because of growing opposition and media coverage.
Farrant said opposition for these bills is growing and that organizations and protests will continue to form.
“People are worried that the passing of these bills will lead to more boycotts of the state,” Farrant said.
College Republicans President Tyler Bowyer agrees with Pearce’s decision to place a hold on the immigration bills.
“I think a general consensus of what the Legislature’s priorities should be right now revolve around budgetary matters,” he said.
Both Farrant and Gould expect Pearce to end the hold between one or two weeks after the new budget has been voted on.
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