Bill criminalizes undocumented immigrants who use public resources

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An Arizona bill would make it unlawful for some undocumented immigrants to use public resources.

In 2010, the Arizona State Legislature approved the controversial immigration law widely known as SB1070. Now, an Arizona Republican lawmaker is proposing a bill that would make it unlawful for some undocumented immigrants to use public resources. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

An Arizona Republican wants to make it a crime for certain undocumented immigrants to use public resources — ranging from using public roads to using public bathrooms — in the Grand Canyon State.

State Rep. Carl Seel (R-Phoenix) is proposing HB 2192 that would make it unlawful for undocumented immigrants to use any public resources, including driving on public roads, attending public schools and accepting public benefits. The bill would also make it unlawful for undocumented immigrants to use the services of any public entity in the state of Arizona, including using public bathrooms or riding city buses.

In a phone interview with VOXXI, Seel made it clear that his bill would only apply to undocumented immigrants who have committed a crime and are going through the court system.

“If you’re here in the state and you’re not quite legal yet, this is not going to prevent you from using public services,” he said. “But if you’re here illegally and you’ve committed crimes in the state, yes, this bill will have a direct impact on you.”

Seel’s bill would add additional charges to whatever other changes an individual is facing. A first offense for using public resources would result in a misdemeanor and a second in felony charges. Undocumented immigrants who drive on public roads could also have their cars taken away.

“I’m trying to keep the streets safer for everybody that’s here no matter what their status is,” Seel said.

HB 2192 will likely not pass

Seel admitted he doesn’t think his bill will go anywhere. The bill hasn’t even been assigned to a committee.

“Any reasonable person would say that the bill is already dead,” he told VOXXI. “The only way it could get heard now is if the [House] speaker took extraordinary action and assigned it to a committee first thing on Monday.”

But he said that’s unlikely to happen given that next week is the last week House committees will be holding hearings and their agendas are already crammed.

Like Seel, Sate Rep. Martin Quezada (D-Phoenix) told VOXXI he doesn’t think HB 2192 “has any chance of passing at this time.” He said that’s in large part because of all the work the Latino and immigrant community has done over the last few years to “shame” lawmakers who propose these kinds of immigration bills.

Quezada said the bill would’ve had higher chances of passing in 2010 when the Arizona Sate Legislature approved several controversial immigration laws, including SB 1070. But following a wave of protests, boycotts and political backlashes, state lawmakers began to abstain from moving such bills forward.

However, Quezada argued Seel’s bill “is a perfect example of the attitudes that are still out there about the immigrant community and the Latino community.”

“Those kinds of discriminatory, short-sighted and really hateful ideas are still out there,” the Democratic state lawmaker said. “Even though they’ve died down a lot, they are still there.”

Mostly negative reaction to HB 2192

When asked what kind of reaction HB 2192 has gotten at the Arizona State Legislature, Seel told VOXXI his bill is not a top priority for state lawmakers. He said there are other more pressing issues Arizona legislators want to address, such as looking into thousands of child abuse and neglect cases that have gone uninvestigated.

More than anything, Seel said HB 2192 is intended keep the focus on the issue of illegal immigration and to highlight the importance of continuing to “defend the rule of law.”

“Quite honestly, I proposed the bill because I don’t want the issue to be forgotten,” he said. “It’s still relevant, but we’re really working on more pressing matters in the state right now.”

Across the state of Arizona, Seel’s bill is receiving more criticism than support. Much of the criticism is coming from Latino leaders and immigrant rights groups, like the ACLU of Arizona.

Sean Noble, a former congressional aide and conservative strategist in Washington, D.C., tweeted this out about the bill: “You just can’t fix this kind of stupid. What an embarrassment for the GOP. This is not how to grow the party.”

Quezada said the reaction at the Arizona State Capitol has “actually been very quiet.”

“Nobody is really paying much attention to it, and I think the reason why is because no one is really giving it much credibility,” he said.

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