A conference committee of legislative Republicans and Democrats has approved several changes to Arizona's new immigration law.
The changes still need final approval from both the House and the Senate before being passed along to the governor.
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, the lone Democrat that showed up for the committee, opposed the changes – and the new law as a whole. Sen. Manuel Alvarez, D-Elfrida, the other Democrat assigned to the six-member committee, was not in attendance.
Sinema said the revised version is even worse than what became law because it now requires a representative of a city, county or the state to determine immigration status in cases where they are responding to violations of city or county ordinance, such as a barking dog or tall weeds in the yard.
Sinema called the change "frightening."
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, said it would be a double standard if a law-enforcement officer responding to a civil violation ignored reasonable suspicion of a possible immigration crime violation.
Here are some of the proposed changes to the law:
Eliminate the word "solely" from the sentence "A law enforcement official or agency… may not solely consider race, color or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution."
Restates the "lawful contact" portion of the bill. It now states that "For any lawful STOP, DETENTION OR ARREST made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of this state or a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state IN THE ENFORCEMENT OF ANY OTHER LAW OR ORDINANCE OF A COUNTY, CITY OR TOWN OR THIS STATE where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien AND is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person, except if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation."
Adds the clause that "In the implementation of this section, an alien's immigration status may be determined by a law enforcement officer who is authorized by the federal government to verify or ascertain an alien's immigration status …" or ICE.
Eliminates the law's escalation from a misdemeanor to a felony in certain cases, as well as the $500 fine. Now states that the maximum fine is $100 and no more than 20 days in jail for a first violation and no more than 30 days in jail for a subsequent violation.
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