Arizona Lawmaker Introduces Extreme New Anti-Immigrant Bill

Imagine 2050 Staff • Feb 17, 2014

It seems anti-immigrant legislators in Arizona are not content with the harsh enforcement measures granted by the state’s controversial laws already on the books. Accordingly, one state representative has introduced a bill that would prevent undocumented immigrants from using even the most basic public resources and allow Arizona’s law enforcement officials even more leeway in their ability to unjustly target immigrant communities.

HB 2192, as introduced by State Rep. Carl Seel, prohibits undocumented immigrants from “driving on a public road or highway, accepting any public benefit, attending a public school or using the services of any public entity.” The bill, only 28 lines long, is a natural extension of the SB 1070 law that has made Arizona the face of destructive immigration law enforcement policies nationwide. Using purposefully undefined language surrounding “public entity,” HB 2192 could easily and broadly be interpreted by law enforcement and see Arizona immigrants detained for acts as innocuous as walking on a public sidewalk or using a public restroom.

Seel’s previous support for SB 1070 should be unsurprising given the extreme provisions in his new bill. The roots of his anti-immigrant zeal, however, go beyond co-sponsoring the 2010 law. Prior to joining the Arizona State Legislature in 2009, Seel was a minuteman with close ties to Minutemen Civil Defense Corps. founder Chris Simcox. Seel even occasionally co-hosted the “Minuteman HQ Radio” broadcasts alongside Simcox. The Minutemen movement exemplifies the anti-immigrant movement at its most extreme, vitriolic, and dangerous. Its membership boasted some of the country’s most notorious anti-immigrant extremists including the murderers Shawna Forde and JT Ready.

Seel’s extremism is not limited to patrolling the border. Elsewhere on the far-right, he has opposed the United Nations’ non-binding guidelines for sustainable development and aided Sheriff Joe Arpaio in his seemingly endless and conspiracy-riddled campaign to prove President Obama was not born in the United States.

Fortunately, the chances of HB 2192 passing – or even being put to a vote – are virtually nil. Seel even admitted as such this month when he told Phoenix’s KSAZ “I doubt an issue like this is going to move anywhere, so even though I’m the sponsor of this bill, I’m telling you it’s probably not going to move.” Seel’s bill is little more than an affirmation to the far-right and anti-immigrant movement that the nativist agenda continues to have a voice in Arizona. However, continued efforts to advance such policies should not be dismissed.

Arizona is certainly not the only state where discriminatory bills are being introduced to demonize and disenfranchise minority groups and communities. The growing prevalence of “American Laws for American Courts” legislation targeting Muslim communities should not be ignored. Emboldened by last year’s Supreme Court decision to dismantle portions of the Voting Rights Act, states have also instituted or are working towards enacting voter suppression measures that disproportionately affect minority voters. More recently, Kansas’ House of Representatives made headlines last week when it advanced a bill permitting discrimination against same-sex couples.

Conservative lawmakers in state houses across the country have evidenced their intent to make our country less inclusive. As legislative sessions in states proceed this year, other such measures are likely to be introduced. So too, though, will proposals seeking to counter the divisive policies that further embolden movements of organized bigotry. Over the year, these are the efforts that must be supported as we continue to oppose discrimination and support minority communities across the country.

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