Just six years ago, our country grieved alongside parents and children who were forcibly separated at the border, with a full two-thirds of Americans across political parties opposed to the barbaric actions. HCR2060 opens the door to repeating this shameful chapter.” -January Contreras, Children’s Action Alliance.

Children’s Action Alliance puts brain and heart power to work every day to realize the vision of an Arizona where all children and families thrive. HCR2060, an immigration bill expected to be heard this week in the Arizona Legislature, is incompatible with this vision.

Our CEO, January Contreras, recently shared some of the reasons that HCR2060 is bad for Arizona’s children. We share this editorial with you as supporters who also value the potential of every child in our state. Children’s Action Alliance remains in opposition to HCR2060, and we urge members of the legislature to vote against it.

Guest Opinion as Printed in the Arizona Daily Star on May 17, 2024

HCR2060 is not the answer

While many look to the Arizona State Legislature to tackle state priorities such as transportation, public safety, affordable housing, and education, members are also currently working to take on the federal responsibility of immigration enforcement in ways that are likely unlawful, certainly unfunded, and deeply harmful for our state.

House Concurrent Resolution 2060 (HCR2060) is a resolution that attempts to create state law and deploy local authorities for immigration enforcement. Parts of the resolution duplicate what is already in law when it comes to public benefits, but it charts new territory in criminal enforcement of unlawful presence without safeguards that exist in federal immigration policy such as barring enforcement on school campuses and in churches. HCR2060 can still be defeated by the legislature, but if passed, it will open the door to chaos that makes Arizona less safe than today.

I speak as a former prosecutor and former attorney for victims of crime. Without question, it is my experience that victims of abuse, human trafficking, and other crimes will not call local law enforcement for help when they fear that call will lead to deportation. This is backed up by cities that saw declines in reports of domestic violence and sexual assault crimes in Latino communities when anti-immigrant rhetoric and targeting was at its most extreme. The crimes were happening, victims were just too afraid to call 9-1-1. HCR2060 will decrease public safety and allow perpetrators of violence to escape being held accountable for their crimes.

I speak as a former Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Just six years ago, our country grieved alongside parents and children who were forcibly separated at the border, with a full two-thirds of Americans across political parties opposed to the barbaric actions. Today, my former HHS colleagues still serve on a Reunification Task Force dedicated to leaving no stone unturned to reunite families. The “zero tolerance” policy that unleashed this trauma continues to claim more than 1,000 children who have been deprived of the parents they were separated from. HCR2060 opens the door to repeating this shameful chapter.

Most importantly, I write this as a mother and an advocate for children. As I sat in church this week sharing in a blessing for moms, I could not help but pray for the parents and children whose lives will be torn apart if elected officials once again sanction actions that terrorize immigrant families. HCR2060 will do just that.

We must look to the right authorities for solutions to problems. Here, federal officials must reform and enforce federal immigration laws in ways that do not leave humanity and public safety behind. HCR2060 is not the answer.

January Contreras is the CEO of Children’s Action Alliance, advocating statewide for the health, safety, education, and economic well-being of children in Arizona.

Click here to access the opinion piece at the Arizona Daily Star.

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