PHOENIX (KSAZ) - On Thursday, a bill that would impose tougher sentences on undocumented immigrants failed a vote in the Arizona State Senate.
The bill known as "Grant's Law" is named after Grant Ronnebeck. He was working as a gas station clerk when he was shot and killed. The bill, if passed, would hit undocumented immigrants with longer prison sentences if they are convicted of a felony.
"This would have saved lives," said Ronnebeck's father, Steve.
Ronnebeck's accused killer, Apolinar Altamirano, is an undocumented immigrant with a felony on his record when he allegedly killed Ronnebeck.
"Had his killer done prison time, done the prison time that he should have for his original crimes, Grant would still be alive," said Steve.
Thursday turned out to be a very emotional day for the Ronnebeck family. Ronnebeck's father, Steve, was hopeful the bill would pass. Ronnebeck's family were at the State Capitol to watch the vote, and saw the bill that they believe could have saved their son's life fail. All of the State Senate's 13 Democrats, along with three Republican Senators, voted against the bill.
The bill's sponsor, State Sen. Steve Smith (R-Dist. 11) asked his fellow Senate members to explain their reasons for voting "no" Ronnebeck's family. The same chamber passed the bill last year, but the bill went on to fail in the State House.
"You don't owe me an explanation, owe the family one, ask them," said State Sen. Smith. "Tell the family why you voted against the bill, because maybe there's something I missed."
"It's a blatantly unconstitutional bill on its face," said State Senate Minority Whip Martin Quezada (D-Dist. 29). "it goes against everything our country is based on."