- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - A migrant justice organization spoke out against a wave of legislation targeting immigrants Thursday as an Arizona House panel passed a bill that would cut off state shared revenue from municipalities that obstruct immigration enforcement.

Advocates from Puente stood outside the Capitol to denounce what they say is a series of measures designed to criminalize and persecute immigrants.

Organizing director Francisca Porchas said she believes House Bill 2223 and several other proposals are the first major wave of anti-immigrant legislation since Arizona approved SB 1070, which launched protests, lawsuits and national controversy with its provision requiring police to try and determine the immigration status of people during routine traffic stops.

“They are saying ‘We are going to starve you from funding for the basic needs of your own constituents, so we can force you to discriminate and be racist with immigrant people,’” Porchas said.

Rep. Jay Lawrence of Lawrence, R-Scottsdale, sponsored House Bill 2223 that would take state revenue grants from cities, towns or counties that issue an identification card that could authorize the presence of immigrants who are in the country illegally.

It would also allow the attorney general to block state shared revenue for municipalities that restrict governments from gathering information on a person’s immigration status. Arizona’s revenue sharing plan bars municipalities from levying taxes in exchange for the state money. Cities and towns depend on the money for their budgets.

The House Committee on Government and Higher Education passed the measure on a 6-3 vote Thursday.

Lawrence said the proposal is in response to Phoenix pursuing a city identification card that could provide residents and immigrants who are in the country illegally with a valid ID.

He said during committee that immigrants who are in the country illegally hurt the state’s economy with incarceration and medical costs.

Phoenix is still exploring ideas for how the ID card would work, but the Arizona Republic reports the ID could be used to help access city services, open bank accounts, rent housing or receive medical care.

However, it could not be used to establish lawful presence in the country.

Porchas said the ID is beneficial for anyone who doesn’t have identification, especially when dealing with law enforcement.

“Any interface with police or law enforcement is dangerous for our people because when you can’t identify yourself it becomes probable cause,” she said.

Lawrence said his measure would simply add penalties to laws in place under SB 1070. Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, is sponsoring a similar bill in the Senate.

The Republican lawmaker from Maricopa is also sponsoring Senate Bill 1377 that would add stiffer penalties for immigrants who break the law while in the country illegally.

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