Force behind Arizona’s ‘show me your papers’ law dead at 75

Jan 5, 2023, 3:28 AM | Updated: 8:12 pm
FILE - Former Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, the architect of Arizona's controversial immigrati...

FILE - Former Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, the architect of Arizona's controversial immigration law S.B. 1070, left, accompanied by former Arizona Sen. Dennis DeConcini, testifies on Capitol Hill on April 24, 2012, in Washington before the Senate Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee hearing. Pearce, a Republican lawmaker who was the driving force behind Arizona's landmark 2010 immigration legislation known as the “show me your papers” law and other anti-immigrant measures, has died Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023. He was 75. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — Russell Pearce, a Republican lawmaker who was the driving force behind Arizona’s landmark 2010 immigration legislation known as the “show me your papers” law and other anti-immigrant measures, has died. He was 75.

Pearce’s family said on social media that he died Thursday at his home in Mesa, Arizona, after falling ill.

Pearce rose to brief national prominence more than a decade ago while advocating for tougher border policies for Arizona, one of the busiest hubs for illegal immigration in the United States. He was the lead sponsor of Senate Bill 1070, which required law enforcement officers to inquire about suspects’ immigration status if they had reason to believe they were in the U.S. illegally.

It was the toughest anti-immigration law in the nation and prompted calls for organizations to cancel conventions in Phoenix, a huge source of income for Arizona’s largest city.

“The law was not only anti-immigrant, it was anti-Arizona,” said Lydia Guzman, a prominent civil rights advocate who illegally operated a hotline for migrants in the U.S. during that period. “People were not coming to Arizona because the law was so unjust, traumatizing such a vulnerable community.”

Activists in the city’s rapidly growing Latino community criticized Pearce for portraying immigrants as lawbreakers. The controversy over the law ultimately fueled the creation of local civil rights groups that registered growing numbers of Hispanic U.S. citizens to vote and become involved in their neighborhoods.

But SB 1070 also tapped into the fears and frustrations of others about the porous southern border and the possible effects immigration could have on their lives in metro Phoenix.

Legal challenges were filed over SB 1070’s constitutionality and its compliance with civil rights law., with detractors arguing that the law encouraged the racial profiling of Latinos. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the provision requiring immigration status checks during law enforcement stops but struck down three other provisions.

Pearce earlier backed other anti-immigration measures, including a voter-approved law that denied bail to immigrants who were in the U.S. illegally and charged with a range of felonies that included shoplifting, aggravated identity theft, sexual assault and murder. That 2006 law was later struck down by an 11-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for violating due process rights by imposing punishment before trial.

Another law punished employers who hired workers who were in the U.S. illegally, drawing protests from business owners and prompting droves of immigrants to flee to other states or return to their home countries.

“Why in the world do (immigrants in the U.S. illegally) think they have a right to break the law?” Pearce was quoted as saying in a 2008 Associated Press article. “And we are the bad guys for insisting that the law be enforced? The public doesn’t agree with that.”

Amid changing demographics in Arizona, fierce community opposition to Pearce’s measures sparked a November 2011 recall election that ousted him from the state Senate, where he served as president.

“The churches went against him, the businesses went against him because the law was hurting Arizona’s economy,” said Guzman, the rights advocate.

The year after he became the first person ever recalled from the Arizona Legislature, Pearce lost a comeback bid in the Republican primary for a state Senate seat.

Before he was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2000, then later the Senate, Pearce worked many years for the Maricopa County sheriff’s office, rising to become chief deputy to then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was nationally known for his anti-immigration policies.

Pearce at one point even claimed credit for Arpaio’s infamous complex of jail tents.

“My condolences go out to the family, friends, and many supporters of Russell Pearce, a patriot, law enforcement official, and Arizona state senate president, who passed away today,” Arpaio wrote on his Facebook account. “He served with honor and integrity at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. I’m proud to have appointed him as my chief deputy. He will be sorely missed.”

Pearce later served as director of the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division and more recently worked for the Maricopa County Treasurer’s Office.

There was no immediate information about funeral arrangements.

___

Associated Press writer Jacques Billeaud contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Protesters gather in front of police headquarters while marching Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Memphi...
Associated Press

Memphis police disband unit that fatally beat Tyre Nichols

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis police chief disbanded the city’s so-called Scorpion unit on Saturday, citing a “cloud of dishonor” from newly released video that showed some of its officers beating Tyre Nichols to death after stopping the Black motorist. Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis acted a day after the harrowing video emerged, saying […]
1 day ago
Rescue workers collect remains from the burnt wreckage of a bus accident in Bela, an area of Lasbel...
Associated Press

Passenger bus in Pakistan crashes, catches fire killing 40

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — A passenger bus fell into a ravine and caught fire killing 40 people in southern Pakistan on Sunday, a government official said. The bus was carrying 44 passengers from Quetta in Balochistan province to Karachi in neighboring Sindh province. The accident was near the town of Bela, in Lasbela district. Hamza […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Today in History: JAN 29, Prohibition launches

Today in History Today is Sunday, Jan. 29, the 29th day of 2023. There are 336 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Jan. 29, 1936, the first inductees of baseball’s Hall of Fame, including Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, were named in Cooperstown, New York. On this date: In 1820, King […]
1 day ago
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., is seen in the U.S. Capitol, July 14, 2022, in Washington.  Gallego sa...
Associated Press

Gallego holds first events of Arizona Senate campaign

PHOENIX (AP) — Democrat Ruben Gallego held the first public events of his U.S. Senate campaign Saturday, taking aim at independent incumbent Kyrsten Sinema and casting his candidacy in a patriotic appeal to the American dream. The fifth-term congressman recounted his journey from a poor family in Chicago to cleaning toilets as a Harvard student […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Saturday’s Scores

GIRLS PREP BASKETBALL= Anacortes 61, Blaine 36 Bellevue 65, West Valley (Yakima) 48 Bothell 44, Glacier Peak 40 Bremerton 52, Stadium 42 Burlington-Edison 47, Squalicum 33 Cashmere 57, Okanogan 50 Cedarcrest 48, Marysville-Pilchuck 21 Colfax 57, Liberty (Spangle) 44 Colton 76, Garfield-Palouse 43 Columbia (Burbank) 45, Dayton/Waitsburg 15 Columbia River 53, R.A. Long 28 Concrete […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Saturday’s Scores

BOYS PREP BASKETBALL= Archbishop Murphy 69, Kingston 54 Ballard 68, Franklin 56 Bothell 64, Glacier Peak 49 Capital 62, W. F. West 56 Cedarcrest 60, Marysville-Pilchuck 57 Cle Elum/Roslyn 105, Granger 53 Cleveland 57, Lincoln 54 Colfax 60, Liberty (Spangle) 54 Columbia (Burbank) 84, Dayton/Waitsburg 20 Columbia (Hunters) 64, Curlew 36 Concrete 62, Shoreline Christian […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Force behind Arizona’s ‘show me your papers’ law dead at 75