Arizona’s temporary guardianship rule could lead to deportation of undocumented immigrants
Arizona’s governor has signed a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to challenge a temporary guardians’ order and possibly be removed from the country if the court determines that they pose a risk to public safety.
The measure, SB-967, passed the Arizona House on Tuesday and was approved by the Senate on Wednesday.
It is one of several measures in the governor’s first-term agenda that seeks to end a decades-long legal battle over the temporary guardianships of some undocumented immigrants, who are often held in Arizona jails without access to lawyers.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. John Kavanagh, also aims to make permanent changes to Arizona’s guardianship law.
It would provide a new “emergency waiver” for the state to grant temporary guardians a legal status that allows them to seek an appeal from a temporary order.
Under current law, the guardian must file an appeal within two years.
Under the proposed law, temporary guardians would not have to file appeals in that time frame and would have more leeway to challenge the temporary order, said Kavanah, who also sponsored the bill.
The new provision is similar to one in a federal appeals court that overturned Arizona’s 2006 law requiring all guardians to file legal documents, and to submit an affidavit describing their concerns for the safety of their children.
It was based on an earlier case that the Arizona Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutional.
The court ruled that Arizona’s law violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of due process and the equal protection clause, ruling that Arizona was violating federal immigration law by limiting guardianship to the state’s borders.
Arizona’s temporary orders have been a key tool in the fight over immigration reform.
In 2015, Arizona lawmakers passed SB-1070, which required that any new immigration legislation include a measure mandating the guardianship of immigrants who entered the state illegally.
The Arizona Supreme court ruled in 2015 that Arizona law was unconstitutional because it discriminated against immigrants living in the state.
But the court did not require a constitutional amendment to change the law.
The Legislature and the governor have sought to ease some of the restrictions on temporary guardians, but critics say the rules are being flouted and the process is not working.
Kavanagh said in a statement the bill is needed to protect vulnerable immigrants and to protect children from being removed from their families, even if their parents are here illegally.
In a statement, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and Corrections said the governor is not in favor of granting a waiver to any immigrant or immigrant-owned business to challenge temporary orders.
“There is nothing in SB-0967 that would make Arizona safer for our most vulnerable residents,” the department said in the statement.