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‘Arizona Border Invasion Act’ passes state senate, Hobbs plans to veto


A bill targeting illegal immigration in Arizona has passed the Arizona State Senate along party lines.

Republican Sen. Janae Shamp’s legislation dubbed the “Arizona Border Invasion Act” would criminalize crossing into Arizona under state law unless it is through a legal port of entry at the United States-Mexico border.

In addition, Senate Bill 1231 would give civil immunity to government employees who would enforce the proposed law.

“Well, I think what it’s gonna do is put the focus back where it needs to be with the states,” Shamp told The Center Square.

“They’re not enforcing anything,” she said regarding the Biden administration’s handling of the border crisis.

The Republican is hoping that it will ultimately get the signature of Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs.

“My message is: Please sign this. Please give our law enforcement a tool. Take the handcuffs off of them,” the senator said.

However, the governor’s office told The Center Square that she plans on vetoing the legislation.

“From day one Governor Hobbs has taken strong action to secure our border and is fighting for increased funding to combat the fentanyl epidemic and expand Operation SECURE,” a Hobbs spokesman said in a statement. “SB1231 is unconstitutional, will not secure the border, and will drive away businesses and jobs from Arizona. She will not sign it.”

The vote on Wednesday was 16-13-1, sparking a debate on the floor about the legislation implications for migrants.

Democratic critics of the bill have argued it is too similar to Senate Bill 1070, which was signed by former Republican Gov. Jan Brewer in 2010 and had some parts shot down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I think that this bill is just a direct criminalization answer. And what we have seen, and we have data that shows that criminalizing any area of policy does not yield the results that I think that we’re looking for here,” Sen. Anna Hernandez, D-Phoenix, told The Center Square.

While the governor has deployed National Guard troops to the southern border and been critical of the Biden administration, she previously vetoed Republican-backed border bills last session. In total, Hobbs vetoed 143 Republican-sponsored bills in 2023, according to the Arizona Capitol Times.

A similar debate is unfolding about a similar piece of legislation in House Bill 2748, which is sponsored by Rep. Joseph Chaplik, R-Scottsdale.

Migrant encounters at the Arizona border have remained high in recent months. In fiscal year 2024, the Tucson sector has seen 250,611 encounters so far, as well as 22,908 encounters in the Yuma sector, according to Customs and Border Protection data.