PHOENIX — State senators voted Thursday to set up an all-volunteer Homeland Security Force separate from the Arizona National Guard.
Senate Bill 1132, given preliminary approval, would create what essentially amounts to a state militia under the governor's control.
Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, said the force would respond on the governor's orders to any natural or human-caused disaster, when "necessary to protect lives or property," or to help along the border to spot people coming into the United States illegally.
Harper said nearly two dozen other states have similar militias separate from Guard units.
A special committee appointed by the governor and by legislative leaders would decide how to set up the force and screen applicants. Militia officers would need prior military experience.
Bill targeting 'day laborers' moves along
At the same time Thursday, the Arizona House gave preliminary approval to separate legislation also aimed in part at illegal immigration.
That bill would make it a crime for people to stand on street corners and sidewalks while offering to work, or to remain on private property while looking for work.
Illegal immigrants are not specifically mentioned. But Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said the bill is particularly aimed at "day laborers," many of whom are not in this country legally, who congregate around certain stores hoping to get a job for the day.
Rep. Ben Miranda, D-Phoenix, argued that House Bill 2589 is an unconstitutional infringement on First Amendment rights to assemble.
Kavanagh said courts have upheld restrictions on individual rights if there is a legitimate reason. His bill would allow police to make arrests only if people are "disrupting vehicle or pedestrian traffic."