On St. Patrick’s day, five senate bills regarding immigration went to the floor of the Arizona state house for a vote and failed. With almost lightning speed, Facebook and other social media outlets lit up with the Arizona Delegation (the citizen activists here) responding to the news – quite angrily, I might add. Most of us were puzzled, livid and even embarrassed. My first response was in wondering if so much pressure was coming down from the federal government that we finally ‘found our level’ in the state house. I wrote to my representative in the Arizona State Senate, Frank Antenori, after I called his office asking for clarification. Ultimately, Antenori voted in favor of three bills and voted down two. The two more controversial bills are at the forefront of a national conversation already taking place, so I was interested in hearing what was on the minds of our legislators and Antenori is certainly a great gauge. He is fearless, very intelligent and will stand up for what he believes so I was genuinely interested in his final assessment of all the bills.
As I’ve noted before, Arizonans are on direct speaking terms with elected officials – it’s purely a matter of whether one chooses to engage or not. It’s not unusual to sit and have a beer with our state reps separate from a political venue, talk about activities taking place and engage in more light-hearted conversations at times. It is also not a matter of being invited to participate – you just do it. That’s exactly how I met Frank Antenori in April of 2009. He had just entered the statehouse that January after the November 2008 elections.
Karen McKean, former AZ Coordinator for Smart Girl Politics, invited me to have drinks after a townhall in which some of our state reps addressed serious decisions before our state. I recall State Rep. Al Melvin specifically saying they (in the state house) were prepared to make Arizona a safe haven from the socialist policies of the new Obama administration. There was also commentary that spoke of a positive relationship with Arizona’s new governor, Jan Brewer. Seated at our table that evening was Smart Girl Anne Loftfield who introduced me to a new Smart Girl thinking about running for congress against Raul Grijalva in CD-7. That’s the night I met Ruth McClung. Across from her was the person I was getting to know through the first Tucson Tea Party and wanted to see as my new congressional representative – Jesse Kelly along with his campaign manager at the time, Bret Summers. I also met John Ellinwood who worked with media in the Kelly campaign and currently manages 2012 candidate for congress, Gabriela Saucedo Mercer. Seated across from me were three state reps, one of them being my rep, Frank Antenori. From that time, whenever I see Frank – be it a townhall, meet and greet, tea party or even the time we ran into each other in Phoenix (he on his lunch hour; me at a protest) – I am always greeted with a hug and a ‘Hey! How are you?’ So it was not difficult talking to Frank on March 26 – just a little over a week after the immigration votes – asking him about his decisions.
I wanted to get a sense of why so many went against the immigration legislation at this critical time when the nation is watching. Sen. Antenori answered in a very thoughtful manner and for that, I appreciate not only what he had to say but also the carefully considered reason with which he came to his conclusions.
First, the ‘yes’ votes.
The following three bills were favored by Sen. Antenori:
- SB1405 (Hospital Admissions; Restrictions)
- SB1407 (Schools/Data/Non-citizens) – Co-sponsored by Frank
- SB1611 (Immigration Omnibus)
Sen. Antenori stated these bills fell within the boundaries of constitutional authority in our state. He also cited in his blog (www.vote4Frank.com) the bills were a means of “…controlling/managing illegal immigration in Arizona with a net financial gain for the state.”
SB1405 will ultimately, deter those in Arizona illegally from accessing hospitals for non-emergency care. It does not prohibit care from being administered at all (just want to make that clear before the MSM, pro-illegal lobby & ultimately, the fed say otherwise since they will not actually read the bill just as they neglected to read SB1070). In fact, the bill clearly states citizenship can be researched and confirmed during the course of treatment. The bill also holds hospitals accountable in reporting and following through.
SB1407 holds schools and the Department of Education accountable to the state and taxpayers. We can all agree a child is not at fault for being brought into this country illegally, but we must hold parents subjecting their children to their willful criminal act accountable as well as schools and the Department of Education. Why should the taxpayer have to pay for children of Mexico or other nations to attend school when our public schools are already struggling for desks, textbooks and various resources?
Hey, it gets better! Last year while Tom Horne was still State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the following situation was uncovered: http://goo.gl/bg8hN With SB1407, schools could have funding withheld for such actions and be subject to civil liability. Now that Tom Horne is our Attorney General, I am confident he would hold the districts liable.
The third bill Antenori supported was SB1611 which is also known as the ‘Immigration Omnibus’ bill since it includes many provisions such as banning undocumented students from attending public colleges and universities in Arizona, clarifying the documentation that establishes residence in this state and will be acceptable for school enrollments, denying benefits to undocumented people, clamping down on those who perform identity theft and drive illegally in Arizona, and the list continues – all benefitting the security of this state and taxpayers.
As for the ‘no’ votes delivered by Frank Antenori, they include:
- SB1308 (Interstate compacts; birth certificate)
- SB1309 (Arizona citizenship)
Antenori stated SB1308 would establish a second Arizona birth certificate to be given to children of parents who cannot establish their US Citizenship. He also added there is no criteria set up in the bill in determining whether or not parents are in the country legally. It was also stressed strongly in his statement to me and his on website that the bill would not stop ‘Anchor Babies’; in fact, he points out there is no language existing at all that bars citizenship or one’s ‘natural born status’.
There are many other thoughtful points Antenori made about what he sees as the bill’s flaws such as the fact “…issuing a second certification of birth “not subject to the jurisdiction” of the 14th amendment would still allow the child to become a U.S. citizen because it meets the requirement for proof of birth on American soil. So you can actually take the second birth certificate that says you were born in Arizona but not “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” and still use it to prove U.S. citizenship to obtain a U.S. passport. So essentially the bill would be ineffective. (1)” Antenori then points out the additional cost to the state to issue and maintain a second certificate and change the system not to mention the court battles that would result and, in his estimation, these would be court battles we would lose.
SB1309, highlighting Arizona citizenship, redefines citizenship altogether. Since the congress is the only body under the Constitution who determines citizenship and not individual states, it would go against the law of the land.
Though I understand Antenori’s points on his ‘no’ votes, I am also mindful that SB1070 was also addressing a federal matter as well. It took our state legislators and governor to hold the federal government’s feet to the fire on an issue they were neglecting (which the fed continue to do). I wonder if State Senate President Russell Pearce had the same line of thought in holding the federal government accountable once again through the citizenship bills.
I also wondered if the debate on immigration was becoming an overwhelming topic no one had the will to take on anymore. Then, some news began appearing.
On April 5, 2011, two interesting things occurred – one in the Arizona Senate and one in the U.S. Senate.
Last year, the Arizona state house passed a vote on the birther bill, but the Senate put it away for a time. State rep. Judy Burges revived talk of the bill earlier this year and most recently – in fact, on April 8 – State rep. Carl Seel met with The Donald as he has expressed his support of Arizona’s bill which did pass a State Senate subcommittee. The vote in the Arizona State Senate was postponed on April 5 and the timing is interesting.
Not only did State Rep. Seel meet with Trump on the matter on April 8, but on the date the Arizona Senate postponed a vote, four members of the U.S. Senate introduced a bill to limit birthright citizenship – something Antenori had pointed out needed to be dealt with at the federal level, not the state.
Senators David Vitter (R-LA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced an amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act limiting birthright citizenship to children in this country born to at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, an active member of the U.S. military or a legal resident. The bill is in addition to Paul and Vitter’s earlier resolution clarifying birthright citizenship in an amendment to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
The decisions to postpone or introduce votes and legislation are not mere coincidence in my humble opinion. I see a work in progress between the state of Arizona and some brave souls in the U.S. Senate. If Trump is willing to help give the birther element voice in separate Arizona legislation (which actually ties into SB1308 and SB1309 in some ways), then sobeit. The more attention to the matter the better, and if it gives this administration and the liberal establishment in both parties a migraine – excellent! If it means the U.S. Senate passes the legislation by Vitters, Paul, Lee and Moran, that translates to not only getting control of our immigration policy and enforcing it, but also intensifying the administration’s migraine, even perhaps giving them an aneurysm – SWEET!
I was initially floored and angry when the Arizona house voted down the five immigration bills on March 17. It made me wonder if we were losing the will to fight on the immigration/border issues or if there was something at work many of us did not have an opportunity to see just yet. Taking the country back means we have to work intelligently and if the goal of the five bills being voted down in Arizona was to prompt some action in the U.S. Senate to take up the 14th amendment debate(s) while Arizona gears up to bring some of those votes back to the floor once flaws have been addressed, then I see this as a brilliant move – in fact, a national movement on the rise.
State Senator Frank Antenori did assure me that once flaws were worked out in some of the bills, they would indeed pass. With that in mind, I urge Arizonans not to lose heart in this matter. These are times in which we need to be patient, determined, thoughtful and strong while maintaining our snarkiness and spirited independence.
It remains to be seen how the votes in Arizona and the U.S. congress unfold, but I am going to be hopeful and pray a great deal.
Arizona has survived a great deal which says something about the people here. I see the words that follow from the movie Independence Day as a description of Arizonans in 2011:
‘We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight!’
As I have written before, I see Arizona as leading the nation on so many fronts all of which will lead us to a time when we will no longer have to ask if there will ever be another ‘Morning in America’ – there will be. You betcha!
(1) Antenori, Frank. “SB1308 (interstate compact; birth certificates) – Why I voted No”. www.Vote4Frank.com . March 2011.
A little side note: Interesting Senators Kyl and McCain are absent from the birthright citizen bill in the U.S. Senate. I would like to think they are quietly supportive of this measure; perhaps I even hold out hope they helped orchestrate the timing and communications in some way. See? I still hope for the best in these two men though I have tremendous doubts – especially when it comes to McCain.