Jacques Billeaud, AP, July 1, 2009
The Arizona House has defeated a bill that would have made it the only state in the nation to criminalize the presence of illegal immigrants by expanding its trespassing law.
The House voted 26-15 for the bill to expand Arizona’s trespassing law Wednesday morning, but that was five votes short of the 31 needed for passage. The Senate approved the bill 16-11 earlier Wednesday.
Supporters say an expanded trespassing law would provide a second layer of enforcement to help local police catch immigrants who slip past federal agents.
Opponents predicted it would lead to racial profiling for thousands of Latinos who are U.S. citizens.
Illegal immigrants account for an estimated 500,000 people in Arizona’s 6.5 million population.