Arizona adds immigration enforcement measure to November ballot

By Liliana Salgado and Ted Hesson

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona voters will be able to decide in the Nov. 5 election if they support or reject a Republican-led measure that would make it a crime to cross the state border from Mexico and allow state judges to order deportations.

Arizona's Republican-led House of Representatives voted along party lines 31-29 on Tuesday to add a ballot measure that will pose to voters whether the state should create its own immigration penalties.

The Arizona Senate, where Republicans also hold a majority, approved the ballot measure last month after Democratic Governor Katie Hobbs vetoed related legislation in March.

The U.S. federal government historically has enforced immigration policy, but Republicans in Arizona have pushed in recent months to create state-level penalties. Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa have all passed similar laws, sparking legal battles with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Immigration and abortion have been top issues in the battleground state of Arizona in the run-up to Nov. 5 U.S. elections. Such states are hotly contested because their population can swing either to Republicans or Democrats.

Abortion supporters also aim to add a ballot measure that would protect abortion rights.

Polls show U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Donald Trump in a tight race in Arizona, one of a handful of states that could decide the winner.

The race for a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona could also be close. The leading Democratic candidate is U.S. Representative Ruben Gallego, a military veteran, and the leading Republican is former television broadcaster Kari Lake, a Trump ally.

Samara Klar, a University of Arizona professor, said ballot initiatives can "mobilize voters who otherwise might not have an incentive to vote" and help boost turnout.

Arizona passed a state-level immigration enforcement law in 2010 known as S.B. 1070 but the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the measure.

(Reporting by Liliana Salgado in Phoenix and Ted Hesson in Washington; Editing by Mary Milliken and Stephen Coates)