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Arizona illegal immigration, 'birther' bills show rightward shift

Arizona lawmakers, fresh off sending a controversial illegal immigration bill to the governor, on Wednesday advanced a bill requiring presidential candidates to show a birth certificate in order to appear on the ballot there.

Opponents of a sweeping immigration bill hold a rally at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on Tuesday. The bill, and another requiring proof of citizenship for presidential candidates to appear on state ballots, indicate a shift to the right.

Amanda Lee Myers/AP

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Even by the measure of Arizona's long history of conservatism, the past week has been extraordinary.

In the past six days, the legislature has passed the nation's strictest anti-illegal immigration bill, a law permitting concealed weapons, and the House has approved a bill requiring a presidential candidate to show his or her birth certificate to appear on the state ballot.

The last bill, which now must pass the Senate, was a clear nod to the birther movement, which claims that President Obama was not born in the US.

This is the home of five-term Sen. Barry Goldwater, known as "Mr Conservative" – the politician most often credited for sparking the resurgence of the American conservative political movement in the 1960s. But a confluence of factors, ranging from the rising pitch of the illegal immigration debate to the departure of a Democratic governor and her replacement by a Republican has tilted Arizona even further to the right.

“They had a Democratic governor, and when she left, that completely changed the political calculus,” says Matthew Kerbel, a professor of political science at Villanova University. Now the legislative and executive branches are of the same party, he says.


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