PHOENIX - A proposal to expand Arizona's trespassing law drew accusations this week that it targets people living in the state illegally.
The Arizona Capitol Times reported Friday that state Sen. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, is sponsoring a bill that would broaden the definition of trespassing to those who are knowingly entering or remaining on a property if they are violating federal or state law.
Lawmakers are withholding the bill from the Senate floor to try and address any possibility of constitutional violations and court challenges.
The bill has already been approved 4-2 by the Senate Rules Committee. But the vote was split among GOP members. Griffin and Senate President Andy Biggs voted for it, while Senate Majority Leader John McComish and Sen. Adan Driggs said they would vote against it in a floor vote.
Democrats said the measure tries to make a state crime out of federal immigration law. Senate Minority Leader Anna Tovar, D-Phoenix, likened the bill to 2010 immigration crackdown law, Senate Bill 1070.
"Again, this is an issue that, if we learned anything not just from SB1070 but the lawsuits as well, it's that the Supreme Court says we don't have the authority to be making such laws to this effect," Tovar said.
Maurice "Mo" Goldman, a Tucson-based immigration attorney, said the legislation would likely be susceptible to a court challenge.
"It brings us back to the same problems we had with SB1070 in that it's an overreach by Arizona as far as trying to enforce federal immigration law indirectly via state legislation," Goldman said.
Making being in Arizona illegally a state trespassing crime was originally part of the original SB1070 bill crafted by former Sen. Russell Pearce. House Republicans' concerns forced the trespassing references to be dropped from the bill. Pearce changed the language to define trespassing as failure to carry any kind of immigration registration document. That provision was ultimately struck down in 2011 by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Biggs said some of Griffin's bill could still be possible.
"Even with SB1070 there were some portions that were left intact, although they're being attacked elsewhere in other litigation. But for now, they remain the state of the law," Biggs said.