I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hate Legislation from Pearce

Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

New push planned against illegal immigration 

October 21, 2009

Sen. Russell Pearce speaks out Wednesday in favor of changing state law to spell out that local law enforcement officers have the right to arrest those in this country illegally. That and two other measures, to be sponsored by Pearce, are being proposed as initiatives if lawmakers do not adopt the changes themselves. With him are former Congressman J.D. Hayworth and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

The chief proponent of Arizona legislation to combat illegal immigration said Wednesday he is crafting three new measures, with the promise to take the issues directly to voters if colleagues or the governor balk.

The package being put together by Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, would:

allow local police to arrest those in this country illegally under state trespass laws;

bar local governments from having "sanctuary" policies that prohibit police officers from inquiring about the legal status of those they encounter;

let prosecutors subpoena business records and testimony to investigate whether companies are hiring undocumented workers without first getting a warrant from a judge.

Pearce said he wants a special legislative session in January, running concurrent with the regular session, to push the measures. That maneuver would allow the laws to take effect sooner; most legislation adopted during the regular session can't be enforced until late summer or early fall.

Pearce said quick action to empower police is needed in the wake of a decision by the Department of Homeland Security to revoke the authority of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to have his deputies enforce federal immigration laws. Federal officials said the "crime suppression sweeps" conducted by Arpaio to round up illegal immigrants were not what they had in mind in giving him the authority in the first place.
And Pearce said aides to Gov. Jan Brewer have told him she "absolutely" supports what he is trying to do.

Gubernatorial press aide Paul Senseman said Brewer is "conceptually supportive" of the trespass and sanctuary measures. He said, though, the governor supports the existing laws that make it illegal to hire undocumented workers but needs to know more about what Pearce wants before backing it.

But Pearce, who has seen some of his prior legislative efforts fall short of votes or get vetoed, said he is not taking any chances this time: He already is working on an initiative to bypass the Legislature entirely by gathering the necessary 153,365 signatures to put the issues on the 2010 ballot.

"I guarantee you, the citizens will have the last say on this," said Pearce to a small crowd of supporters. "And we'll take back America one state at a time."

Central to the theme is empowering police and prosecutors to do more about illegal immigration.

Pearce said some communities have "sanctuary" rules or policies that restrict the ability of law enforcement to question people about whether they are in this country legally. Several police chiefs say those rules make sense because they do not want to deter illegal immigrants who are crime victims or witnesses from coming forward.

Pearce said those arguments make no sense.

"If I've got a gang shootout and the victim's an illegal, the shooter's an illegal, the witnesses are illegal, I don't question anybody?" Pearce said. "That's the dumbest thing in the world that one can do."

The legislation has been fought in the past by the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, at least in part because one provision would allow anyone who feels a community has a sanctuary policy to file suit.

The second part of the package would expand state laws to make it a crime for any illegal immigrants to enter into or be on any public or private land in Arizona.

Pearce said he believes local police already have "inherent authority" to enforce federal immigration laws, even without the kind of approval and training the Department of Homeland Security had given to - and subsequently took from - the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

But Pearce said changing trespass laws would create the necessary state crime that would clearly give police the power to arrest illegal immigrants, and for prosecutors to seek to incarcerate them on state charges.

Mark Spencer, president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, said officers are not interested in routine immigration enforcement. But he said the changes Pearce wants would give them "discretionary ability to take enforcement action in dealing with illegal immigration."

"Our members continue to see a clear connection between the crime of illegal immigration and the quality of life in the city of Phoenix," he said.

The third part of Pearce's package is designed to make it easier for county attorneys to investigate complaints that companies are violating Arizona's 2-year-old law that makes it illegal to knowingly hire undocumented immigrants.

No charges have been brought under this law. Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas said part of that is because prosecutors can't get the information they need.

Thomas said a county attorney with proper evidence can ask a judge for a search warrant in criminal cases. But violations of the employer sanctions law are civil, he said, and there is nothing in the law letting him subpoena business records or testimony in civil cases until he's filed a complaint.

"But the Catch-22 is that we can't file a civil case under the employer sanctions law until we first have evidence of wrongdoing," Thomas said. "So we need administrative subpoena power to gather the evidence needed to bring a civil case against an employer."

Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that has the potential for too much mischief, with no requirement to first provide evidence to a judge there is reasonable suspicion a firm is breaking the law. He pointed out that the employer sanctions law already allows prosecutors to consider anonymous complaints.

"So the thought of taking away a judicial filter for those types of complaints is scary," Hamer said, saying it would give prosecutors unrestricted access into not just business records but the Social Security numbers and wages of employees.

"We're not going to support something that's going to allow for a massive expansion of power that's going to allow for, really, fishing expeditions," he continued, saying there are already procedures in place for prosecutors to get that information.

Pearce said there is precedent, saying lawmakers have given the state insurance and liquor license departments similar powers to conduct their investigations.

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