The Arizona House of Representatives has passed a wide-ranging bill that, if signed by Gov. Jan Brewer, would cement the state’s reputation as the leader in tough and controversial immigration-control measures, reports the Arizona Republic. The bill would make it a state crime to be in the U.S. illegally and would bar what its proponents call “sanctuary city” policies.
The vote came after a morning full of demonstrations for and against the measure. Advocates watched intently from the House gallery and had to be quieted when they burst into applause as lawmakers made floor speeches. The vote also was watched closely on the national stage, where there was widespread agreement the bill would put Arizona on the verge of being the national leader in tough immigration policy. Currently, immigration offenses are violations of federal law, something most local law-enforcement agencies cannot enforce. The Arizona bill would require anyone whom police suspect of being in the country illegally to produce “an alien registration document,” such as a green card or be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor and pay a minimum $500 fine.