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5:05 AM Sun, Nov. 18th

Brewer has until Saturday to sign bill

Goddard blasts AZ immigration reform effort

PHOENIX - Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard blasted an immigration bill passed by the Arizona Legislature Tuesday.

"This bill does nothing to improve border security or address the core causes of illegal immigration," he said in a news release. "It also would take law enforcement resources away from stopping more serious crimes."

The bill, Senate Bill 1070, passed the Legislature Monday and is currently sitting on Gov. Jan Brewer's desk. Brewer has until Saturday to sign it into law.

The bill, if signed, would make it a crime if illegal immigrants fail to show alien registration documents when asked by law enforcement. It would require law enforcement officers to question residents about their immigration status if the officer believes the person may be in the state illegally. It would also allow Arizona citizens to file a lawsuit against a government agency if the citizen felt the agency was hindering the enforcement of immigration laws. It would also make it a crime for an employer to hire and transport a person for day labor if the employer knew the person was in the country illegally.

Goddard also sent out letters Tuesday supporting the Arizona Cattle Growers Association and asking President Barack Obama and Sec. of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to strengthen federal immigration laws.

Law enforcement believed rancher Robert Krentz was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant March 27 on his Douglas ranch.

"Our current federal laws are woefully inadequate and are much to blame for the desire of many border state policy makers to take matters into their own hands," Goddard wrote.

In his letter to the president, Goddard asks for felony charges to be pressed against anyone caught entering the country illegally, including first offenders. He also asks that those receiving such felony convictions be banned from ever receiving legal residency or work status in the U.S. He pushes for federal sanctions against employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and asks for more border patrol agents and re-deployment of the Arizona National Guard along the Arizona border.

Goddard also touts the creation of a Border Enforcement Section within his office using $7 million worth of funds won through a $94 million settlement against Western Union. The section will focus exclusively on border crime.

Another $50 million from the settlement will be used to create grants for local law enforcement offices to enforce immigration laws. Goddard encourages the president to offer matching grant funds.

His office has also partnered with the attorneys general of Texas, New Mexico and California, as well as the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions and the Phoenix Police Department to create the Southwest Border Alliance. The Alliance will oversee the grants and come up with ideas to fight crime along the border.

Goddard also asks that the federal government pay its "full share of the incarceration costs as the (State Criminal Alien Assistance Program) law requires." The program is supposed to reimburse states for the cost of incarcerating criminal illegal immigrants. According to Goddard, the program has never fully reimbursed the state for the costs.