Elections

Immigration, Politics, and the Power of the People

Main image to the post Immigration, Politics, and the Power of the People

The Arizona legislature, controlled by the Republican Party, has approved a ballot measure that could significantly impact immigration policy in the state. This measure, if approved by voters in November, would empower state law enforcement officials to arrest and detain individuals suspected of entering the United States illegally. It would also allow state judges to deport these individuals.

Given the high stakes surrounding immigration policy in the United States, this measure is likely to face legal challenges. The measure's passage is almost certain to be contested in court, should voters approve it.

This measure is one of several conservative-led initiatives set to appear on the November ballot. The lack of veto power for Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs, who opposes the measure, allows Republican lawmakers to use their legislative majority to push conservative proposals onto the ballot.

These ballot measures are expected to have a significant impact on the upcoming presidential election, particularly in Arizona, a state where both major parties are vying for victory. Donald Trump won Arizona in 2016, while President Joe Biden secured victory in 2020, thanks to support from independents, Latino voters, and young voters.

The proliferation of ballot measures in Arizona, which could also include a measure establishing the "fundamental right" to an abortion up until fetal viability, has the potential to significantly increase voter turnout in November. This heightened participation could impact not only the presidential race but also down-ballot races for state lawmakers. Arizona is once again poised to be a battleground for the nation's ongoing ideological debates.

In addition to the immigration measure, GOP lawmakers have also placed an amendment on the ballot that would make it more difficult for citizen-led initiatives to reach the ballot. This amendment would impose geographic restrictions on ballot petitions, a move Republicans argue is necessary to give rural voters a greater voice in a state dominated by populous Maricopa and Pima counties.

Currently, Arizona law requires petitioners to collect signatures equal to 10% of the votes cast in the most recent gubernatorial election to place a state statute on the ballot. For constitutional amendments, the required signature threshold is 15%. There are no geographic restrictions on where these signatures must be collected.

However, if approved by voters, the Republican-crafted ballot measure would introduce a signature distribution requirement. Petitioners would be required to meet the aforementioned signature thresholds in each of Arizona's 30 legislative districts.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09