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Harsh Immigration Law Advances in Arizona

PHOENIX (CN) - The Arizona Senate's Appropriations Committee has given the nod to another draconian immigration bill. Senate Bill 1611, the "Immigration Omnibus," would require parents to prove their child's citizenship to enroll in public or private school, require the school to report the family to police if they cannot provide ID, make it illegal for undocumented immigrants to drive a vehicle, and make it a criminal misdemeanor to allow an undocumented person to live in public housing, even if the renter is a citizen.

The bill also will suspend a business' license if it fails to prove that an employee is registered through the state's E-Verify program. The committee endorsed the bill by 7-6 vote, with two Republicans voting against it.

SB 1611 requires K-12 public school districts and private schools to "notify the person enrolling the pupil in writing that within 30 days the person must provide" a birth certificate, U.S. passport, foreign passport with a visa, or other acceptable ID.

If the parent or guardian does not do so, "the school, school district or county school superintendent shall notify that person in writing that, unless the person complies within 10 days, the case shall be referred to the local law enforcement agency for investigation."

If "compliance is not obtained within the 10 day period, the school, school district or county school superintendent shall refer the case to the local law enforcement agency and notify the Department of Education," the bill states.

The bill also prohibits enrollment of undocumented immigrants in public universities, though students had previously been allowed to enroll if they paid out-of-state tuition.

Critics of Arizona's latest attempt to enforce its own immigration policy blasted the bill.

"This bill is miles beyond SB 1070 in terms of its potential to roll back the rights and fundamental freedoms of both citizens and noncitizens alike," said Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona.

"It demonstrates the lack of leadership, lack of priorities and complete lack of understanding by some Arizona lawmakers of what it really means to uphold the Constitution of the United States and Arizona."

Arizona's SB 1070 requires noncitizens to carry specified ID, requires local police to enforce immigration law, and prohibits undocumented people from looking for work on the street, among other things. A federal judge last year enjoined enforcement of its harshest provisions.

SB 1611 also requires the Arizona attorney general to "provide a notice of noncompliance to any employer who does not provide proof that the employer is registered with and is participating in the E-Verify program."

Arizona's E-Verify program requires businesses to use a federal database of authorized workers; a 2007 law allows a state judge to suspend or revoke business licenses of companies found guilty of knowingly hiring undocumented immigrants.

If a company does not comply with the attorney general's notice within 6 months, "the attorney general shall order the appropriate agencies to suspend all licenses that are held by the employer ... [and the licenses] shall remain suspended until the employer complies," the bill states.

The bill makes it illegal for undocumented immigrants to drive a vehicle in Arizona, and if arrested, will require the person to serve at least 30 consecutive days in jail, and pay the costs of incarceration.

It also requires a person to prove citizenship when applying for a certificate of title to a vehicle.

SB 1611 requires public housing authorities to verify an applicant's citizenship and "evict all residents of a dwelling unit in rental housing accommodations owned, operated, managed or contracted for by the public housing authority if a resident of that unit allows a person who is in this country illegally to reside in that unit."

A person who violates this section of the bill is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.

SB 1611 was drafted by State Sen. Russell Pearce R-Mesa, who also wrote SB 1070.

Another critic of the law, Petra Falcon, executive director of Promise Arizona, commented: "Arizona has very real, pressing problems, starting with a crushing deficit. Pearce has abused his position, seemingly using it to satisfy a personal vendetta and ignoring Arizona's needs. ... Attacking children, imposing onerous requirements on businesses and continuing to scapegoat immigrants is exactly what Arizona does not need."

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