Arizona lawmakers reject "birthright" immigration bills


Republican lawmakers in Arizona intended to put their state at the forefront of a national debate this year over "birthright" citizenship laws, but the state Senate on Thursday rejected a whole series of conservative immigration bills.

Some Republicans joined Democrats in opposition to a set of "birthright bills" that would have stripped citizenship for children born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants, the Arizona Republic reports.

The Arizona bills were part of a coordinated effort among Republican lawmakers in a handful of states to push the "birthright" issue at the state level and force a Supreme Court challenge.

Along with the birthright bills, the Arizona Senate rejected four other conservative immigration measures: legislation to ban illegal immigrants from state universities, a bill to make it a crime for illegal immigrants to drive in Arizona, a bill requiring school districts to check the legal status of students and a bill requiring hospitals to check the legal status of patients.

The legislation failed after leaders in the business community, as well as citizens against the stricter immigration measures, urged lawmakers to reject the bills.

A coalition of 60 CEOs from Arizona sent a letter to the Arizona state Senate earlier this week, the Phoenix Business Journal reports.

"Arizona's lawmakers and citizens are right to be concerned about illegal immigration," the letter said. "But we must acknowledge that when Arizona goes it alone on this issue, unintended consequences inevitably occur."

The business leaders said the state's economy suffered last year because of the boycotts and negative perceptions of the state that were borne from the debate over Arizona's controversial law SB 1070, which made it a state crime to be in the country without documentation. The CEOs added that Arizona lawmakers should leave immigration issues to federal lawmakers, pointing out that some Republicans in the U.S. Congress have already introduced federal birthright legislation.

Meanwhile, in Tucson and Flagstaff, children held symbolic sit-ins to protest the birthright bills, the Huffington Post reports.

Even though the measures failed, Republican state Senate President Russell Pearce suggested he would eventually pass the bills, accoring to the Huffington Post.

"It took me a while on 1070, too," Pearce said. "I introduced it in '05, '06, '07, '08, '09 and 2010 before we had a governor that would sign it. And we've become the envy of this nation with 25 states writing legislation modeled after 1070."