Ignoring a threatened veto, Arizona lawmakers adopted a multifaceted border security and immigration bill Thursday night and sent it to the governor.
The final version of HB2577, approved by the House on a 33-22 margin and in the Senate 16-9, is virtually identical to an earlier version. Legislators did agree, however, to several alternations, including adding a provision which spells out that companies have to comply with requests by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to produce employment records — records that would be reviewed to see if they are hiring undocumented workers.
But the final version of the measure contains what has been a “poison pill’’ for Gov. Janet Napolitano: A new law allowing illegal immigrants to be arrested by state and local police and charged by prosecutors with trespass.
“She’s not going to sign it,’’ said gubernatorial press aide Jeanine L’Ecuyer.
And the governor, seeking to show this isn’t just her concern, released a series of letters sent to her by state and local officials — mostly Democrats — decrying the provision. One, crafted by Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall on behalf of herself and several other county attorneys and sheriffs, said the provision is an unconstitutional intrusion by the state into immigration policies which are solely the purview of the federal government.
LaWall also said it would be a burden on her office.
Rep. Russell Pearce, RMesa, who has been a driving force behind the legislation, said it doesn’t need to be a burden. He called it a “tool’’ that police and prosecutors can use if they want.
Pearce said fewer illegal immigrants means less crime.
But LaWall said a study done by her office showed that less than 4 percent of the cases filed involved defendants who were not in this country legally.
“So that tells me that 96 percent of the individuals that we’re prosecuting are homegrown criminals,’’ she said.
A veto would come as no surprise to Republican legislative leaders. In fact, they introduced a contingency measure Thursday to take the entire package directly to voters in November.
The trespass provision is not Napolitano’s only problem with the bill. She also is objecting to some of the money that would be spent, including $50 million to buy or lease a ground-scanning radar system.
Napolitano, in her State of the State speech, had asked for some sort of high-tech approach to spot individuals crossing the border illegally. But she said there is money in pending federal legislation to do just that.
Similarly, Napolitano now opposes a $10 million appropriation to deploy units of the Arizona National Guard along the border, pointing to a request by President Bush for federal funding to station 6,000 Guard troops from around the nation to the state’s four border states.
Sen. Jack Harper, RSurprise, said the possibility of getting federal assistance and congressional action isn’t enough.
Lawmakers did agree to amend the legislation to say that if the federal government comes up with cash for either program, it will offset the use of state tax dollars.