Pearce is widely known for authoring S.B. 1070, the controversial undocumented citizen measure that made the state the focal point of a national debate on immigration in 2010
An Arizona Republican who made his reputation trying to boot illegal immigrants is now being given the boot himself — by voters.
State Sen. Russell Pearce - the chief architect of the state's controversial immigration law - was voted out of office in a special recall election on Tuesday.
Pearce is the first state legislator in the state's history to be removed through a recall election, according to the Arizona Republic.
While an unknown number of early ballots remained to be counted, Pearce conceded the loss Tuesday evening.
"It doesn't look like the numbers are going in my direction with this, and I'm OK with this," said the former Phoenix-area sheriff's deputy.
"If being recalled is being the price for keeping these promises, then so be it."
Pearce is widely known for authoring S.B. 1070, the controversial undocumented citizen measure that made the state the focal point of a national debate on immigration in 2010.
The legislation, which has sparked protests by civil rights and religious groups, mandates that immigrants carry documentation of their status. It also requires police to question people about their immigration status if the cops have "reasonable suspicion."
While key provisions of the law have been put on hold by a federal judge, GOP Gov. Jan Brewer has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the law to go ahead as planned.
Critics say the law could lead to racial profiling. Supporters argue the law is necessary because the federal government hasn't done enough to curb illegal immigration.
Some see the recall initiative, which collected more than 10,000 signatures, as a referendum on the Legislature's fierce immigration laws that Pearce has stewarded over the years.
"The Legislature remains extremely conservative but with regards to making illegal immigration their top priority, this should be a warning shot across the bow," Republican lobbyist and political analyst Christ Herstam told the Associated Press.