Russell Pearce, the sponsor of the controversial SB 1070 law that sparked a new flash point in the country's immigration debate, is facing a recall election in his district in Arizona.

Critics of the legislator filed petitions Tuesday.

The requirement to do so is 7,756 voter signatures from the Mesa Republican's legislative district.

Recall proponents say they filed petitions bearing 18,315 signatures. But campaign chairman Chad Snow acknowledged thousands of those might be duplicates or signatures of people who live outside the Senate President's district.

"We want those extra petition signatures to send a message," Snow said. "We want to send a message to Sen. Pearce, to every legislator down here at the Arizona Legislature that this kind of extreme, ideologically driven policies will no longer be tolerated in our state."

Officials say it could take until August to determine whether the petitions meet requirements.

Pearce is best known for sponsoring immigration measures including the 2010 enforcement law known as SB1070. A judge has placed key provisions of that measure on hold while they're challenged in court.

Pearce also sponsored Arizona's 2007 employer sanctions law, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court last week.

Critics contend Pearce has focused too much on illegal immigration while giving short shrift to education, health care and other concerns of Arizonans.

Pearce did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday.

He told The Associated Press last week he was taking the possibility of a recall seriously, but said he wasn't worried about losing his seat. He also said the recall attempt was "silly" because he already must run again in 2012 to keep his seat.

Pearce received some unwelcome attention earlier this year when a Fiesta Bowl internal report disclosed that he accepted numerous free trips to college football games in other states. He has denied wrongdoing and said he took the trips to help promote the Fiesta Bowl and Arizona's economy.

If there is a recall election, it would be held in November or March. The election's timing depends on how long officials take to check signatures and make required certifications.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.