PHOENIX — A lawyer for the state says Arizona lawmakers should keep their comments on legislation straightforward and professional. Otherwise, the attorney says, colorful and strident remarks about bills that become laws can make it difficult to defend the statutes against legal challenges.
“It is an obstacle we have to overcome sometimes,” Deputy Solicitor General Dominic Draye told legislators during a presentation Wednesday, the Arizona Capital Times (http://bit.ly/2dQaW0s) reported.
Legislators’ comments have come up during an ongoing court case in which immigrant rights advocates are trying to block identity theft laws enacted a decade ago.
The identify theft laws have been used to prosecute immigrants who obtained jobs using fake documents, and those challenging the statutes contend lawmakers were being discriminatory when they approved them in 2007 and 2008.
Puente Arizona’s attorney, Anne Lai, wrote in a motion that the legislative record has numerous “hostile statements towards undocumented immigrants as a group — painting them as undesirable, culturally inferior and unreasonably dangerous, and, therefore, deserving of punishment.”
Lai singled out statements of the bill’s sponsor, then-Sen. Russell Pearce.
“Further, Pearce’s comment that ‘(w)e have become the carjacking, home invasion, and identity theft capital in the world’ was a signature line that he repeated again and again when railing against undocumented immigrants,” Lai wrote.
She said other lawmakers shared Pearce’s understanding that the identity-theft provisions were immigration measures.
The state won an appeal in that case in May, and Draye was in U.S. District Court on Thursday arguing during a hearing on the state’s request to have the case dismissed.
Draye said the lawmakers’ comments don’t prove discriminatory intent was a substantial and motivating factor in adopting the law.
The law, he said, “is neutral on its face – it applies to everybody, unauthorized aliens and U.S. citizens alike.”
Information from: Arizona Capitol Times, http://www.arizonacapitoltimes.com