Supporters and opponents of Arizona's controversial immigration law are squaring off again after Democrats said they're working to repeal the measure.
Dozens of protesters gathered at the state Capitol on Monday, carrying signs and shouting at each other as lawmakers on both sides discussed the 2010 law, known as Senate Bill 1070.
Democratic Sen. Steve Gallardo of Phoenix announced Monday afternoon that he is introducing a bill to repeal the law, which he says is polarizing and has harmed the state's reputation.
"It has done nothing to solve any of our immigration issues here in the state of Arizona," he said.
Republican lawmakers, who held their own rally to reiterate their support for the law, say Gallardo's proposal will go nowhere in the Legislature.
A federal judge has blocked enforcement of the immigration law's most contentious sections, such as a requirement that police, while enforcing other laws, question people's immigration status if officers suspect they are in the country illegally. But the judge allowed other sections to take effect, including a ban on blocking of traffic when people seek or offer day-labor services on streets.
The state's appeal of the ruling is now awaiting review from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Democratic opponents of the law are emboldened by the recall of the law's author and a flagging public interest in immigration enforcement laws.
Rep. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix, said the law has hurt the state's chances of attracting business.
"Arizona will continue to crawl towards economic recovery, but without repeal of S.B. 1070, we will lag behind the country because of our damaged reputation," she said.
Demonstrators opposed to the law held signs that read "No racist raids. Full rights for all immigrants," and chanted "1070 has got to go!"
Meanwhile, the law's supporters broke into song with "God Bless America," and later drowned out Democratic lawmakers during a news conference by chanting "1070 works!"
Republican Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said most residents support the law and Gallardo's proposal is out of touch with Arizonans.
"This bill go directly into a deep, dark drawer of a committee chairman's desk, which is where it should be, because this bill is just going to cause controversy, hurt Arizona's economy more, and it will never pass," he said. "This is more election year publicity than lawmaking."
Republican Sen. Sylvia Allen of Snowflake organized a rally in support of the law, which she said is the only tool the state has to stop illegal immigration because the border is not secure.
"Those who are suggesting we weaken internal enforcement of our immigration laws by repealing S.B. 1070 will only empower the drug cartels and the human smugglers who are making the money off of that," she said. "The open border crowd does not care about the harm that is being caused to our citizens."
Gallardo's repeal bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, headed by Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu.
"I have a special drawer in my desk where bills go that are never going to come back out," Gould said. "That's where that bill is going."
Gallardo said he knows the bill isn't likely to get a hearing, but he wants to start a discussion among lawmakers. Gallardo said he hopes to gather enough support among lawmakers to force a hearing on his proposal.
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