Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Birthright-citizenship bill stalls: Arizonans may be hesitating to invite another firestorm

-- by Dave

You know that plan by Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce -- the architect of SB1070 -- to push through legislation that would deny the children of undocumented immigrants their traditional American citizenship by birthright?

Seems it ran into a bit of an obstacle this week:

A bid to deny citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants faltered Monday when proponents could not get the votes of a Senate panel.

After more than three hours of testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, yanked the two measures. Gould said he lacked the backing of four other members of the Republican-controlled panel, which he chairs.

Gould said he will keep trying to secure votes. And Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said, if necessary, he will reassign the proposal to a more friendly committee.

There was a lot of testimony about the bill, including an invited "expert" who urged the senators to pass the bill just so the state can immediately embark upon an expensive legal defense that they hope will go all the way to the Supreme Court -- where he predicts there will finally be "clarity" on the 14th Amendment's guarantee of citizenship to every person born on American soil.

But other than that, the committee heard nothing but criticism, including testimony from children begging them not to take their citizenship away, to a Democratic senator who wanted to know how people would prove their citizenship: Would they have to carry copies of their parents' birth certificates too?

However, I will just about guarantee that the testimony that convinced this committee full of Republicans to think twice before committing the state's taxpayers to this misadventure came from the business community:

The proposals also drew opposition from the business community.

Kevin Sandler, president of Exhibit One, said he worried about the message adopting such a law would send.

Sandler said his firm, which provides audiovisual equipment to courts across the nation, had to lay off six employees after some out-of-state firms boycotted Arizona businesses after lawmakers adopted SB 1070 last year. That measure gives police more power to detain illegal immigrants.

"We've created a toxic environment," he told lawmakers. "Businesses don't want to move here."

He said companies looking to relocate pay attention to the political climate in a state.

"What we've really done is create a not-open-for-business environment here."

And Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told legislators they should leave the question of citizenship where it belongs: in Congress.

Arizona's economy is completely in the toilet, far more so than in most other states. And while it may not be the chief culprit, the reality is that the furor over the immigrant-bashing SB1070 dearly cost the state -- not just with the boycott, which had a major impact, but with the dramatic loss of tourism dollars thanks to Republicans' incessant and hysterical fearmongering in defense of the bill.

And remember that Pearce already snookered his Republican colleagues by promising not to promote this bill in order to win his Senate presidency, and then promptly reneging on it. They demanded the promise because they know that their most important job should be resuscitating the state's economy, not trying to strip Latino children of their citizenship and embroiling the state in another disastrous controversy.

Oh well. Arizonans are getting what they deserve for electing these fools and cretins.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

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