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11:47 AM Sun, Feb. 17th

Legislator proposes volunteer border force

PHOENIX (AP) - In another indication that illegal immigration remains a concern for Arizona lawmakers, a legislator said Monday he plans to revive once-vetoed legislation to create a new state volunteer force that could be used to help patrol the U.S.-Mexico border.

Republican Sen. Jack Harper of Sun City West said the legislation he plans to pre-file in December for consideration during the 2011 regular session will be similar to a 2007 bill vetoed by then-Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Harper said his bill would establish a new homeland security force of volunteers who could be called to duty during civil disasters and for border security. The border security role could kick in if the federal government withdraws National Guard soldiers now assisting in border security, he said.

Harper's planned bill is the second immigration-related legislation to surface in advance of the 2011 session. Other legislators said previously they plan legislation to deny birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants.

The 2011 bills would follow enactment earlier this year of SB 1070, a controversial law on using local law enforcement to crack down on illegal immigration. Also, the state in 2006 passed a law penalizing employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

Both of those laws face ongoing court challenges, and a judge blocked implementation of provisions of SB 1070.