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The Arizona State Senator responsible for last year’s controversial “Papers, please” legislation continues to push forward anti-immigration laws despite the backlash from his previous attempt. Republican Russell Pearce has proposed two more far-reaching measures to punish undocumented immigrants in his state.
In his first measure, children of undocumented immigrants would no longer be allowed to attend K-12 public schools. The bill would ask school administrators to turn in families that did not provide citizenship papers. That is not all. The legislation would also prohibit undocumented immigrants from attending community colleges and universities. Currently, students without citizenship or legal resident status are able to attend college, but they must pay out-of-state costs. The measure would also impose strict penalties on undocumented drivers — including seizing and selling their cars. Arizona already denies driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, but this bill would increase the penalties, including requiring a 30-day jail sentence for those driving without proof of legal residence. Pearce’s other bill would deny citizenship to children born in the United States to undocumented immigrants.
The measures seem destined for constitutionality challenges and that may be their intended design. The outlandish bills are likely being put forward to draw legal challenges in hopes that the Supreme Court might rule in the state’s favor. Pearce is reportedly planning on a run for the U.S. Congress in 2012, and this proposed legislation has certainly thrust his name into the national spotlight. “This is clean-up,” Pearce told reporters. “All it does is do what the voters have passed in terms of no taxpayer dollars for illegals. It just ties it up.” Pearce also called the influx of undocumented immigrants, an “invasion.” “If you are ever going to stop this invasion, and it is an invasion, you have to quit rewarding people for breaking those laws,” he said.
Immigration advocates are horrified at the proposed legislation from Sen. Pearce. “What [Pearce] wants to do is deter people through attrition so they will leave Arizona,” attorney Jose Penalosa, who works with Somos Republicanos, told the Huffington Post. “He’s attacking it at the heart of the issue, which is children. He’s kidnapping kids.”
Meanwhile, the “Papers, please” law is being challenged by the Obama administration in federal court.