(KFYI News) – A group of Latino activists brought a toilet to the Arizona Capitol on Tuesday and tried to present it to a conservative Republican representative due to a bill he's introduced.
House Bill 2192, authored by Rep. Carl Seel, would make it a crime – a serious misdemeanor on first offense, and a felony on second and subsequent offenses – for anyone who's in Arizona illegally to use any public resource.
The bill specifies that those "public resources" include roads and schools, as well as any other taxpayer-funded entity. Beto Soto of Citizens for a Better Arizona says his group believes that list would also be interpreted to include sidewalks, parks, libraries, and even restrooms on any public property – thus the decision to use a toilet to represent their displeasure with the bill.
"We shouldn't have to show our papers to use the restroom," Soto said.
The toilet was labeled as the "Russell Pearce Extremist Award", named after former state Senate president Russell Pearce, who authored and pushed passage of several bills designed to make life as uncomfortable as possible for people in the state illegally. Chief among those measures was Senate Bill 1070, a tough immigration enforcement measure. Many key provisions of SB 1070 have been invalidated by a federal court, however.
Seel has admitted his bill isn't likely to pass. In fact, it hasn't even been assigned to a committee for a hearing, which is the first step in moving any bill toward a vote. However, Seel said he felt the need to introduce it to make a statement.
The group marched with the toilet into the Capitol, where Capitol security had arranged for a member of Seel's staff to be present. After listening to the group's concerns, Seel's staff member said "I will not accept the toilet" and walked away.
PHOTO: Members of Citizens for a Better Arizona pose with the toilet outside the House of Representatives building at the Capitol.