Recipe for disaster BY MICHELLE VOLKMANN, SUN STAFF WRITER Apr 13, 2006, 9:05 pm A proposed bill giving local law enforcement agencies the ability to stop, question and arrest illegal immigrants as trespassers is a "recipe for disaster," said Yuma County Sheriff Ralph Ogden. It will create a "ripple effect" on the jail, records department, county attorney and court system, Ogden said. "Both for the officer on the street and the officer in the jail that will incarcerate the trespassers," Ogden said in a letter to Gov. Janet Napolitano. "This legislation represents an enormous unfunded obligation for state, county and local law enforcement ... I strongly urge you to veto this bill if it comes to your office." Wednesday, the Senate voted 17-12 to say that people who violated federal law by entering this country without permission can be charged and convicted under state law with trespassing, whether the person was on public or private property, with or without the permission of the owner. House members followed suit less than an hour later on a 33-27 vote. Yuma representatives were in the minority, all three voting no on the bill. "No one along the border wants this bill," Sen. Robert Cannell, D-Yuma, said. "They have enough to do without arresting people for being here illegally. It's a bad bill and I hope it gets vetoed." And it looks like that might happen. Napolitano has received more than a dozen letters from law enforcement agencies and prosecutors around the state urging her to veto the measure. "I listen very closely where law enforcement is,'' she said, according to a Capitol Media Services' article. That widespread opposition is the reason Rep. Amanda Aguirre, D-Yuma, voted against it. "We don't need more burden on a system that is already overwhelmed," she said. Rep. Russ Jones, R-Yuma, said he voted no on this bill because of the financial burden it would put on counties. "It's just not very practical," he said. "It's just an unenforceable piece of legislation. I had to vote no." Yuma Police Chief Robby Robinson said the bill would have a "negative effect" on his department. "I think it's going to have a tremendous impact our officers' ability to deal with aliens," he said. Ogden sees all kinds of problems with this legislation. It "exposes the law enforcement officer in the field to greater hazards, unnecessarily drains resources at the county level and expands local law enforcement duties into unfamiliar areas," he said. "We are less able to respond to everyday calls for service because a person is tied up with this," Ogden said. "They are just putting us in a box. It doesn't make sense. We don't have the resources, manpower, jail or courts to handle this." The measure would make a first-time offender guilty of a misdemeanor, subject to up to six months in jail. But those who are caught a second time could end up serving up to a year in state prison, according to the Capitol Media Services report. Every day an inmate sits in jail, it costs Yuma taxpayers $80, Ogden said. The jail is already crowded and this legislation would compound the problem. Then Ogden would be faced with the problem of who to release from jail. "At some point there is no more room at the inn," Ogden said. "It's a crunch situation. I don't want to get to that point." Time also would have to be spent training officers to identify and question illegal immigrants, and the state legislation doesn't provide any shield for federal civil rights claims, Ogden said. "The last thing we want to do is accuse people of being illegal aliens when it turns out that they are not," Ogden said. San Luis Mayor Nieves Riedel also wrote a letter to the governor asking her to veto the bill. The San Luis Police Chief Heriberto Bejarano could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday afternoon. Capitol Media Services contributed to this report..