A New Direction: Cracking down on illegals in Arizona is losing luster in down economy.

Authordel Puerto, Luige

Byline: Luige del Puerto

With another election season fast approaching, border security remains a priority, but many lawmakers and political insiders say support for local immigration-enforcement measures appears to be waning.

The prevailing mood is that lawmakers might not have the appetite to wage emotionally draining battles over illegal immigration at a time when the state faces a more immediate menace ù a sagging economy and the loss of 300,000 jobs during the recession.

Even Senate President Russell Pearce, the architect of ArizonaÆs go-it- alone efforts to curb illegal immigration, has recently made a message makeover, emphasizing his accomplishments for small businesses and tax cuts.

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But even if Pearce or other hawks push for more anti-illegal immigration measures, other hurdles remain.

First, they will have to win over the same Senate that already rejected five controversial immigration measures last session, including a proposal that supporters say was aimed at getting the U.S.

Supreme Court to ultimately deny automatic citizenship to children born to illegal immigrants.

ThatÆs assuming Pearce, who is facing an historic recall election on Nov. 8, retains his seat this year.

ôI would assume given the makeup of the body, which hasnÆt changed, that you would have the same outcome as you had last year, which was nothing,ö said Chuck Coughlin, a top adviser to Gov. Jan Brewer and a close supporter of Pearce.

Those defeated measures included a proposal to, among other things, deny illegal immigrants access to public benefits like operating vehicles, enrolling in community colleges and receiving medical aid.

Another bill would have required hospitals to verify a personÆs legal status when they sought medical care. The bill would have mandated hospitals to report to law enforcement if a patientÆs citizenship or legal status could not be verified.

Rep. John Kavanagh, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and a close ally of Pearce, said heÆll introduce what he describes as a scaled-down version of those defeated bills.

After the raft of immigration bills failed last session, Kavanagh tried to find a compromise to revive some provisions.

Along the way he said he discovered a lot of common ground with the senators who had balked at them, and that will likely be the basis of a ôsmaller compromise bill,ö he said.

One thing appears likely ù measures seeking to deny birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants are...

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