The border security debate continues

Posted on March 19th, by Evan in As seen on TV. 1 Comment

For nearly a decade now, Arizona politics has been defined by the struggle to stop illegal immigration.

For the past few years, the focus has largely been on pushing for strong “internal enforcement” policies that would make it harder for illegal immigrants to continue living in the state.

SB1070 passed almost two years ago, but additional policies that would alter how schools and hospitals deal with illegal immigrants failed to pass through the Legislature last year.

This year appears to be different, with the focus shifting to the Mexican border in a new way.

A set of bills currently moving through the Legislature would aim to put a volunteer militia on the watch near the Mexican border and begin the enormous project of building a new fence on our southern border.

SB1083 is the bill that would fund a volunteer border militia.

A law created last year allowed the governor to create the armed Arizona State Guard for any reason, but it appropriated no money for the group, so it has remained largely symbolic legislation.

This year’s effort would shift $1.4 million from other gang- and immigration-related programs to pay for equipment, training and a few full-time administrators for the Special Missions Unit, which would be tasked with combating drug cartels.

Another effort this year is SB1104, which builds on legislation passed last year that established a border fence donation fund. Last year’s law allowed people from anywhere in the world to donate money into a fund that promised to be used for a border fence.

But this year’s bill would put the money into the hands of the small group of lawmakers, ranchers and sheriffs that make up the Joint Border Security Advisory Committee.

So far, the two bills have moved easily through legislative committees and appear to be headed for a full vote that would put them on Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk for either a signature or a veto.

But like practically every proposed law regarding illegal immigration, they haven’t moved without contention. And like most illegal immigration policies, there is roughly a party divide, with support coming mostly from Republicans and opposition coming mostly from Democrats.

But there is some fracturing among the usually strong Republican bloc.

Critics of the Special Missions Unit say the proposal has too many unanswered questions, including liability.

A ranchers’ association representative logged his group’s opposition to the bill this week, saying that if the border militia were to get wrapped up in litigation over some action taken on private land, it could lead the landowner liable.

Others have questioned whether the state would similarly be liable if some action led to a wrongful death or wrongful arrest suit, for example.
And those assailing the border fence funding bill say there is a simple math problem: properly building a border fence will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, by most estimates.

But the donation fund has only collected about $300,000 so far.

This year’s legislative session is moving toward its end, and while the final destiny for these border security bills isn’t clear, a safe bet will be that they will spark more media chatter as their potential realization becomes a greater possibility.

– From ABC15

One response to “The border security debate continues”

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