Florence Project Condemns Arizona Bills that Criminalize Immigrants

Florence Project Condemns Arizona Bills that Criminalize Immigrants
These bills would classify crossing the border as a state crime and restrict immigrants from accessing benefits, harkening back to SB1070. 

The Florence Project condemns in the strongest possible terms the anti-immigrant bills that are currently being considered by the Arizona State Legislature.  

Senate Bill 1231 and House Bills 2821 and 2748, packaged as and referred to as “The Arizona Invasion Act” would classify crossing the border between ports of entry as a state crime and allow local judges to adjudicate immigration cases. House Concurrent Resolution 2060 (HCR 2060) would restrict immigrants from accessing benefits by requiring agencies, counties, and municipalities to use the federal e-verify system to affirm that recipients are authorized to live in the United States. These bills are reminiscent of Arizona’s infamous SB 1070, much of which was eventually overturned by the United States Supreme Court.  

“The Florence Project is horrified that legislators in Arizona would even consider such bills,” said Legal Director Laura St. John. “SB 1070 was among the darkest times in our state’s history, and to even consider similar legislation is an affront to our values. These bills would not only cause irreparable harm to our communities and all people seeking protection in the United States, but it will also inevitably lead to extremely costly litigation at huge costs to Arizona taxpayers. We urge lawmakers to vote against these bills and Governor Katie Hobbs to veto them if it comes to that.”  

In addition to criminalizing immigrants, separating families, and sowing fear and irreparable harm in our communities, SB 1231 and HB 2821 and 2748 would put immigration cases in the hands of local judges who are not qualified to adjudicate them. The bill would also provide civil immunity and the right to compensation to local law enforcement involved in detaining and arresting immigrants.  

“Law enforcement officials, both local and federal, have a long and sordid history of profiling and mistreating our communities in the name of alleged immigration enforcement,” said St. John. “Rather than giving them more power to criminalize immigrants and terrorize our communities by granting law enforcement immunity for mistreatment and profiling that will assuredly occur when you have state officials enforcing immigration law, we should be focusing on protecting immigrants in our communities from discrimination and abuse and welcoming newly arrived migrants with humanity and dignity. We have seen iterations of laws like this before in Arizona and in other border states to disastrous results.”  

Another bill, HCR 2060, would require municipalities, state agencies, and licensing agencies to use e-verify to ensure that recipients have status to live in the United States. It would also make failing to use e-verify to confirm employees’ work authorization a felony. This would impose an additional burden on social welfare agencies already struggling to meet the needs of the populations they serve, which will create fear, delays, and uncertainty for our communities who rely on these services, citizens and non-citizens alike.  

“This resolution is needlessly punitive toward the people we serve and toward our communities,” said St. John. “Limiting access to welfare increases homelessness, hunger, and other issues rather than addressing them or making our communities safer. There are already precious few resources available to the people we serve, and this would make it even harder for them to access benefits. Additionally, experts say that this would cause a worker shortage in critical industries, including restaurants, construction, hospitality, and retail. Combined with the blowback to this law, which could be similar to SB1070, it will certainly negatively impact Arizona’s economy.” 

The Florence Project stands firmly and proudly with all immigrants to the United States and in full opposition to these dangerous, racist proposals.