PHOENIX -- Dozens of demonstrators rallied last week at the State Capitol against bills that would make it trespassing to be in the country illegally and require local law enforcement to assist in enforcing federal immigration laws. Both bills also would make it illegal to pick up and hire undocumented workers.
But just how the proposed legislation could impact local law enforcement will be the subject of tonight's presentation by the Flagstaff Police Department.
Flagstaff Deputy Chief Josh Copley said that he will answer questions from councilmembers and members of the Northern Arizona Interfaith Council about the proposed bills during a city council meeting that begins at 5:30 p.m.
NAIC is an organization that publicly opposes anti-immigrant bills that are proposed at the Legislature.
NAIC members have stated in the past that legislation like SB 1070 and HB 2632 would have a devastating effect on the ability of immigrants to report crime to the police.
"If that law does come into play, then we'll deal with it when it does," Copley said.
He added that he is not able to speculate on what the laws will mean for the city, but there will be an impact on law enforcement. What that impact will be remains to be seen.
"We're going to do our best to focus on our mission as a police department," Copley said.
COUNTY SHERIFF CRITICAL OF PROPOSED BILLS
Coconino County Sheriff Bill Pribil said he believes the bills are a bad idea.
"At this point, I see it interesting on the one hand counties are being eviscerated by the state Legislature when it comes to budget ... and yet they continue to find ways for us to spend our precious resources on programs we can't support," Pribil said.
He added that the department has experienced a 10 percent reduction in certified commissioned officers. And those officers who are left are being asked to do more with less.
"This just one more unfunded mandate that is being put onto counties," Pribil said. "And now we're being asked to put another layer of duties onto law enforcement that we cannot support."
Implementation of the proposals are going to be costly and won't be effective in protecting residents in Coconino County, Pribil said.
The reason for the bills is the total frustration of states at the failure of federal government to take any action on the issue of immigration, Pribil said. The bills are motivated by the violence in Mexico created by drug cartels, and violence in U.S. cities committed by undocumented immigrants.
"We're going to continue to see these types of bills introduced throughout the country until the federal government can get its act together," Pribil said. "It's frustrating."
In Phoenix last week, members of several organizations carried signs and chanted outside the Executive Tower where Gov. Jan Brewer's office is located. They delivered hundreds of letters urging her to veto SB 1070 and HB 2632 if they reach her desk.
Alfredo Gutierrez, a former state senator, said it would be unconstitutional to charge people in the country illegally with trespassing.
"These are people who aren't even jaywalking," he said. "It is merely their presence and their status of being undocumented that will make them criminals."
Anna Gaines, founder and chairwoman of American Citizens United, was among a group of counter-demonstrators who carried signs supporting the bills.
"We need to protect the jobs for Americans that live here," Gaines said.
But Daniel Rodriguez of Phoenix said allowing law enforcement to ask for a person's immigration status would make undocumented people reluctant to seek help from police.
"If people are afraid to call the police, then that's a big threat to our national security," he said.
Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, said it would be a mistake to make police enforce federal immigration laws.
"This forces police officers to prioritize immigration enforcement over other public safety duties and I think that is a move in the wrong direction," she said.
SB 1070, sponsored by Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, won Senate approval and was awaiting action by the House. HB 2632, sponsored by Rep. David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, was awaiting a vote by the full House.
Assistant City Editor Larry Hendricks contributed to this report.
Quick facts about bills on illegal immigration
Here are key provisions of SB 1070 and HB 2632:
-- Would require law enforcement officials to assist in enforcing federal immigration laws.
-- Would make being in the country illegally a trespassing offense in Arizona.
-- Would make it illegal for undocumented workers to seek work in public places.
-- Would make it illegal to stop at a street to pick up and knowingly hire undocumented workers.
-- Would make it illegal to transport or conceal undocumented immigrants