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Bills show Arizona's bend to the right

PHOENIX, April 23 (UPI) -- Arizona lawmakers, fresh from passing a divisive immigration bill, tackled a bill that would require presidential candidates to prove they are U.S.-born.

During the past six days, the Legislature passed the nation's strictest anti-illegal immigration bill and the House approved the birth certificate measure, an apparent nod to the so-called "birther movement" that claims President Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States, The Christian Science Monitor reported Thursday.

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State representatives amended a Senate bill to include a requirement that the Arizona secretary of state inspect a presidential candidate's birth certificate before candidate could qualify for the ballot, The Arizona Republic said. Similar laws have been proposed in Oklahoma, Florida and Missouri.

KNPX-TV, Phoenix, reported Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the immigration bill Friday afternoon, making it a crime to be in Arizona illegally and requiring law enforcement officers to check the legal status of people they suspect are undocumented.

Mark Potok, director of the intelligence project for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said Arizona's right-wing posture is nothing new.

"The truth is that Arizona has been a state with far-right politics going back many years, but in (the) last weeks and months is an even more remarkable lurch to right," Potok said. "You've got a lot of whites moving into the state who are not from there, and who seem to feel this is a white man's state, and who don't like it when they find more diversity than they expected."

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Some observers told the newspaper the recent legislation is merely a manifestation of the state's roots as a frontier territory.

"Arizona has always had a contrarian, cantankerous streak," said Jack Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College in California.

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