HB2748: Arizona Democratic lawmakers walk out of hearing over controversial immigration bill

Should state and local police be able to arrest migrants suspected of crossing the country illegally? That’s the question at the heart of a proposed bill at the Arizona State Capitol. 

The Republican-sponsored bill closely resembles a Texas law that is currently tied up in a national legal battle with whip-lash rulings. If passed, House Bill 2748 would authorize state and local police to arrest migrants suspected of crossing the border illegally.

"In 2023 alone, there were more illegal crossings than births in this country," said State Rep. Joseph Chaplik (R-District 23). "We believe in securing the border for our country, especially in a time of crisis we are in, with the world the way it is."

The goal of security, as stated by GOP lawmakers like State Rep. Chaplik, is something Navajo County Sheriff David Clouse says he supports.

"I know the citizens of my county are desperate for some action. Desperate for leadership," said Sheriff Clouse.

Sheriff Clouse, along with the Arizona Sheriff’s Association, feel it’s a step towards solving what Republicans and Democrats alike have deemed a crisis on our southern border. 

"What this does is it gives law enforcement a tool to use in certain situations, if they need it," said Sheriff Clouse.

The bill has brought out a lot of emotions on both sides. Supporters say it is a move that’s necessary to combat the large amounts of migrant crossings along the border, while critics argue the bill is unconstitutional, and would lead to racial profiling. 

During a State Senate committee hearing that was held to discuss the bill, Democratic Party lawmakers got up and left in protest. State Senator Rosanna Gaboldon said she didn’t see the point of discussing HB2748. 

"Why do we need to sit through more testimony, knowing these bills are unconstitutional and will be vetoed by the governor?" said State Sen. Gabaldon (D-District 21).

"This is a copycat bill from what we are seeing in Texas, and we are not elected to represent Texas," said State Sen. Flavio Bravo (D-District 26).

Some of the bill’s opponents say they feel the ramifications of this bill would be disastrous, likening it to the controversial days of SB1070.

According to the Associated Press, SB1070 is an Arizona law that, among other things, required law enforcement officers to inquire about suspects’ immigration status if they had reason to believe they were in the U.S. illegally. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the provision requiring immigration status checks during law enforcement stops, but struck down three other provisions.

"It’s profiling! It’s racial profiling, and the way that it’s written it gives law enforcement permission to stop whoever they want, just because of the way they look," said State Sen. Rosanna Gabaldon (D-District 21).

Sheriff Clouse, however, disagrees with that assertion.

"We find that it’s sometimes offensive to think that we, as law enforcement officials, that that’s how we operate."

A question that remains is whether Governor Katie Hobbs, who is a member of the Democratic Party, would sign the bill into law. While the governor has focused on border security on her State of the State Address, it is important to note she has also vetoed similar bills recently, including one dubbed the "Arizona Border Invasion Act."