March 2, 2005
The House Appropriations Committee voted Tuesday night to deny a host state of services and privileges to people in this country illegally, including a higher education.
HB2030, approved 7-6, greatly expands what voters approved in November in enacting Proposition 200.
Under terms of the bill, a person would have to prove citizenship or legal residency to become an adoptive parent, participate in the Family Literacy program, enroll in adult education services, obtain housing assistance, and attend state universities or community colleges.
It also would require the Department of Economic Security and Department of Health Services to verify the legal status of applicants for any state-funded programs. The only exception would be for emergency services.
The proposal follows a ruling after the election by Attorney General Terry Goddard that Proposition 200 covers only a handful of state services. HB2030 is designed to catch things that the sponsors of Proposition 200 missed.
Rep. Tom Boone, RGlendale, said "it’s just not right’’ for Arizonans to have to pay for services for people who crossed the border illegally. "It’s difficult enough to keep up with your own family expenses at this point,’’ he said.
Rep. Steve Gallardo, DPhoenix, called the measure "unconscionable’’ because it will deny services to children and others in need.
He said if lawmakers really want to do something about illegal border crossers, they should pass laws to penalize restaurants and other businesses that hire illegal immigrants.
But Rep. Bill Konopnicki, R-Safford, who owns several fast-food restaurants, said employers should not be put in the position of trying to figure out who is a legal resident when federal immigration officials have failed.
Despite that, Konopnicki voted against the legislation, calling it "a total waste of time.’’
He said legislators should instead work with the state’s congressional delegation to deal with the overall immigration problem.
Rep. Russell Pearce, RMesa, said the federal government has "failed miserably’’ in controlling the border.
That, he said, requires the state to do what it can.