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Democratic lawmaker unveils bill to repeal SB 1070 illegal immigration law

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PHOENIX – Nearly two years after SB 1070 became law, and just a few months after the recall of the measure’s author, a Democratic state lawmaker introduced legislation Monday to repeal it.

Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, isn’t predicting that his bill will succeed, but he said it will get lawmakers talking about an illegal immigration law that he says has polarized the state and harmed the economy.

“It took Russell Pearce three years to get it passed, it may take us three years to repeal it,” Gallardo said. “We have to start the discussion, and the discussion starts now.”

SB 1218, which has 16 primary sponsors and eight co-sponsors, all of them Democrats, would strike from state law SB 1070′s provisions. Those include requiring law enforcement officers, when possible, to check immigration status if they develop reasonable suspicion of someone with whom they have lawful contact.

Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law in 2010, but legal challenges have prevented most of its provisions from taking effect. It has inspired similar legislation in other states.

Former Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, the bill’s architect, was removed from office in a November recall election.

Gallardo said it’s time to take a hard look at SB 1070′s effect on Arizona.

“It has had a huge impact on the economy, on tourism,” he said. “It has put a black cloud over the state of Arizona that it’s going to take years for us to get out from underneath.”

Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson, who signed on as a primary sponsor, said illegal immigration is the job of the federal government.

“Instead of focusing on creating jobs and stimulating the economy, we are focusing on legislation that has been hijacked by political extremists,” he said.

Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, and other Republicans scheduled a news conference immediately afterward in support of SB 1070.

“The borders are not secure, and there’s no way we are going to weaken 1070 when it’s the only thing we have,” she said.

Allen, the Senate president pro tempore and chairwoman of the Border Security, Federalism and States Sovereignty Committee, said she doesn’t expect Gallardo’s bill to be heard in committee.

“There won’t be the votes for it at this time, when we are experiencing increased activity of drugs, cartels and guns in the state,” she said.

David Berman, senior research fellow with Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said it’s unclear whether the idea of repealing SB 1070 would be popular with the public. A September poll by the institute found that 64 percent of registered Arizonans voters favored the law’s provisions.

“The bill can further galvanize Hispanic support for the Democrats, and that might be the reason they’re pushing it,” Berman said. “Democrats are dependent on mobilizing Hispanic voters.”