Arizona's 'Secure the Border Act' Faces Scrutiny Over Costs and Legality

Arizona lawmakers are pushing forward with the "Secure the Border Act" to bolster border security, despite concerns over costs and legal challenges. The measure would allow state and local police to arrest anyone crossing into Arizona from Mexico at unofficial ports of entry.

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Arizona's 'Secure the Border Act' Faces Scrutiny Over Costs and Legality

Arizona's 'Secure the Border Act' Faces Scrutiny Over Costs and Legality

Arizona lawmakers are pushing forward with legislation known as the "Secure the Border Act" that aims to bolster border security, but the proposal is facing scrutiny over its potential costs to taxpayers and legal challenges. The measure, House Concurrent Resolution 2060 (HCR 2030), would allow state and local police to arrest anyone who crosses into Arizona from Mexico at locations other than official ports of entry.

Why this matters: The passage of this legislation could have far-reaching implications for immigration policy and border security, potentially setting a precedent for other states to follow. Moreover, the significant financial burden on taxpayers could divert resources away from other critical public services and programs.

In addition to the border crossing provisions, HCR 2030 includes measures to verify the legal status of public benefit applicants, impose lengthy prison sentences for fentanyl sellers, and make it a felony to submit false information to evade detection via E-Verify or to apply for public benefits with false documentation. Proponents argue that the costs are justified to prevent crimes and protect the state. "Quite frankly, no amount is too great to stop another 9/11," said Sen. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills).

However, opponents of the measure, including Senate Minority Leader Mitzi Epstein (D-Tempe), estimate that the cost to taxpayers could be at least $325 million annually due to increased expenses for arrests, jail time, and prosecution. "Once again, we have the majority party saying we'll balance the budget on the backs of children again,"Epstein stated. Some Democrats also argue that the measure targets Hispanics and could lead to racial profiling.

The border crossing provisions in HCR 2030 are modeled after Texas Senate Bill 4 (SB 4), which has been placed on hold by a federal appeals court due to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ contends that the legislation improperly interferes with the federal government's exclusive right to regulate immigration, citing the U.S. Supreme Court's 2012 decision that invalidated Arizona's SB 1070 ascase law.

The Arizona Senate is set to vote on the measure on Tuesday. If approved, it will be sent to the House for debate. Should both chambers pass the legislation, it will be placed on the November ballot for voters to decide. As the debate continues, the potential financial impact and legal challenges surrounding the"Secure the Border Act"remain key points of contention.