Reversing course, the House of Representatives refused Wednesday to financially penalize cities and counties whose police departments don’t enforce federal immigration laws.
The 32-28 measure to kill the legislation came amid complaints from some lawmakers that HB2837 would amount to the state taking control of the operations of local police agencies. That is because cities that have what the measure calls “sanctuary” policies for illegal immigrants would forfeit their state revenue sharing, costing them thousands — and potentially millions of dollars.
Rep. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, said it’s one thing to encourage local police to enforce federal laws that make it a crime to be in this country illegally. But she said this measure goes a step too far.
“This bill . . . would penalize local law enforcement for not doing what they cannot do anyway, which is handle a federal problem without enough federal dollars to accomplish the task,” she said. Barto said withholding state money would only hurt police departments by depriving them of needed funds.
The change of fortune upset Rep. Russell Pearce, RMesa, who just a day earlier had convinced colleagues to give the measure preliminary approval.
Pearce said local police not only have the power but also the obligation to enforce federal laws.