History Repeats Itself: Arizona’s Immigration Laws

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By Maya Dominguez. 

Anti-Immigration Laws and Racial Profiling

Most people condemn racial discrimination, but many fail to realize that anti-immigration laws are based on many of the same principles. Immigration policies are closely tied to racial biases and issues of racial and ethnic profiling. In Arizona, the proof is in the state’s history. When SB 1070 was passed in 2010, there was a stark increase in the racial profiling of Latinos regardless of their immigration status. Debates and concerns over the immigration crisis still run high, even though the number of encounters between immigration enforcement and immigrants on the Arizona border and country-wide has decreased. Now, bills are being proposed in the Arizona House and Senate that seem to be repeating history.  

HB 2843—A Loophole for Bias?

HB 2843 is an expansion of the current Arizona Castle Doctrine, which requires a trespasser to both be on another’s land and in the residence before the landowner can use deadly force against the trespasser. The proposed bill would allow an expansion of the current doctrine by replacing the word “and” with “or” in the statute. What appears to be an insignificant alteration on its face has significant consequences. The “or” expands the reach of the Castle Doctrine by allowing a property owner to use deadly force when a trespasser is merely on the land; a trespasser would  not have to be in the residence.  

While the bill does not explicitly state that it is an anti-immigration law, its sponsor, Representative Justin Heap, explained that its intention was to allow for the protection of farmers’ land, not just their homes. HB 2843 would potentially allow ranchers along Arizona’s border to shoot any immigrants who step on their land as they cross the border. This extension of the Castle Doctrine would justify the violent force that killed Gabriel Cuen-Butimea, on January 30, 2023 when George Alan Kelly shot his AK-47 towards eight unarmed migrants 100 yards away.  

HB 2843 was approved by the Arizona House on February 22, 2024 in a party line split and is currently in the Arizona Senate.

SB 1231—The New SB 1070?

HB 2843 isn’t the only anti-immigrant bill being considered by the Arizona Legislature. SB 1231, called the Arizona Border Invasion Act, was introduced to the Arizona Senate in late January by Senator Janae Shamp. This bill contains three major provisions that would drastically affect how immigration policies are enforced. Two of the provisions give freedom to law enforcement in implementing immigration law. They would provide complete civil immunity for any law enforcement officer that acts on behalf of the State or Federal laws and entitles that officer to compensation for any damages or incidents that occur while they are executing the law. The third provision is directed at immigrants. It would make it a crime in Arizona to cross the border without documentation.  

This bill was not formally supported by any law enforcement group despite it primarily being aimed at broadening the scope of law enforcement’s protections and authority in immigration matters. SB 1231 was approved by a party line split in the Arizona House. The Arizona Senate then passed and sent the bill to the governor’s office. Governor Katie Hobbs is expected to veto the bill.

The introduction of SB 1231 also came with many warnings and worries about a repeat of the past. Severe anti-immigrant laws tend to cause an increase in racial profiling in Arizona due to the number of immigrants in the state, primarily towards Latinos from Mexico and Latin America. Many Democratic lawmakers voiced concerns that the passing of SB 1231 would result in an increase of racial discrimination and profiling similar to the era of unchecked bias toward Latinos under SB 1070.

SB 1070—Is Arizona’s Broadest and Strictest Immigration Law In the Past?

SB 1070, passed in 2010, granted law enforcement free reign to demand that an individual prove their immigration status. Officers could demand that an individual provide their  “papers” based solely on the officer’s suspicion that the person was undocumented. SB 1070 also allowed law enforcement to arrest individuals they thought were eligible to be deported without a warrant and made immigrants guilty of a crime in Arizona for failing to carry federal registration papers or seeking work without authorization. 

In 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned three of the four provisions of SB 1070. Then, in 2016, the remaining provision was limited through a settlement. It allowed law enforcement officers to inquire about immigration status, but did not require it. The settlement ensured that no individual was arrested or held solely to verify immigration status, but did not completely overturn SB 1070.  

Bills like HB 2843 and SB 1231 beg the question of whether Arizona’s extreme anti-immigrant laws are really behind us. Although SB 1070 has been overturned, HB 2843 and SB 1231 echo the bias and racial profiling that SB 1070 enabled. If these bills pass, Arizona will replicate a grim part of its history.

"Rally in Michigan Against SB 1070" by DreamActivist is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

By Maya Dominguez

J.D. Candidate, 2026

Maya Dominguez is a first year law student at Sandra Day O’Conner College of Law. Maya is originally from Phoenix, Arizona and attended Fordham University in the Bronx where she earned a B.A. double majoring in Latin American Latino Studies and Classical Languages. Maya currently serves as the 1L Representative for the Chicano Latino Law Students Association. Maya is interested in immigration law, with a special interest in creating pathways to citizenship.