PHOENIX - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB1406 and SB1495 into law last week. SB1406 allows for the creation of a state-sponsored border fence, while SB1495 authorizes the Governor to establish an armed force known as the “Arizona State Guard” for any reason considered necessary.
“We are disappointed in Governor Brewer’s decision to set our state back even further,” said Jennifer Allen, executive director of Border Action Network, a human rights organization based in Arizona border and immigrant communities. “We are still reeling from the effects of SB1070 one year later, and instead of learning from that grave mistake, she continues to take Arizona down a path of costly self-destruction.”
SB1406 would construct a state-sponsored border fence using private donations and inmate labor. According to Allen, the law is prime for lawsuits from both the federal government and individuals because it not only encroaches on the federal government’s area of responsibility, but also because private citizens could sue over the use of their donations if they do not see the progress they want.
“Arizona is once again trying to take into their own hands what should be the responsibility of the federal government,” said Allen. “This self-chartered path will not only be ineffective, it will also be costly to the state and taxpayers since nothing in this law prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars.”
SB1495, in the wake of murder convictions against border vigilantes Shawna Forde and Jason Bush, is another ill-advised measure, Allen continued.
“Sending ill-trained and equipped individuals to our border will only result in further unnecessary violence,” said Allen. “And again, it puts our state at risk of losing thousands, if not millions, of dollars on liability and legal costs. After all the talk about the need to balance the budget, we have these two politically motivated, ill-advised measures that our state does not need and cannot afford.”
Border Action Network monitored these two bills during the entire legislative session, along with 28 others focused on immigration and border enforcement. A total of 12 made it to the Governor’s desk while 18 of them were defeated, including the infamous bills targeting birthright citizenship and Senator Russell Pearce’s “immigration omnibus” bill. In addition to a letter from dozens of CEOs opposing such legislation, people across the state took action against all 30 of these bills in various ways, including sending a total of over 90,000 emails to state legislators.
“We will continue to monitor this type of legislation to hold our legislators and elected officials accountable for the decisions they make,” said Allen. “Especially when those decisions are costly, dangerous, and detrimental to Arizona.”
Border Action Network formed in 1999 and works with immigrant and border communities in Arizona to ensure that our rights are respected, our human dignity upheld and that our communities are healthy places to live. We are a membership-based organization that combines grassroots community organizing, leadership development, litigation and policy advocacy.