In his State of the State speech last month, Gov. Doug Ducey called for a 2020 ballot measure constitutionally banning “sanctuary cities,” breathing new life into the acrimonious immigration debate.
Never mind that the remnants of Russell Pearce’s SB1070, signed into law a decade ago by then-Gov. Jan Brewer, already ban sanctuary cities. Never mind that no sanctuary cities exist in Arizona. Never mind that Tucson overwhelmingly defeated (with 70% opposed) a ballot measure in November that would have made it a sanctuary city.
Ducey’s proposed ballot measure again stirred up negative national publicity, was considered an insult to many Latino families, and further divided us on the immigration issue. Opponents lambasted it as the sequel to SB1070, this time coming from a governor who had dedicated his time in office to repairing the damage done to Arizona’s image by the controversial (and largely unconstitutional) law.
On Jan. 6, Republicans stood and applauded Ducey’s SB1070 scheme. Sadly, it was just too tempting for Arizona GOP politicians to play the fear-mongering immigration card as a way to excite their voters. We’ve seen this strategy in at least three prior elections.
Without SB1070 to wave in front of her voting base, Brewer would have been toast in the 2010 Republican primary.
The law certainly gave Sheriff Joe Arpaio an even larger stage on which to perform. In 2014, we watched Ducey’s first gubernatorial campaign successfully utilize Arpaio in race-baiting television ads.
Ducey’s 2018 re-election campaign and the Republican Governors Association appealed to anti-immigration sentiments in TV ads against Democrat David Garcia, portraying the candidate as a dark figure who threatened the safety of Arizonans. Ducey locked arms with the Trump immigration policy.
Now it’s 2020, and the Trump/McSally GOP team is in trouble in Arizona. Our diversifying economy has created an influx of college-educated workers over the last few years. This, along with a steady increase in Latino voters – mobilized by the outrage SB1070 generated – has given the aging white Republican base far less political clout than even a few years ago.
So, once again, Ducey rolled out the immigration controversy. And, once again, an Arizona governor stained Arizona’s reputation and potentially harmed our economy. But unlike with SB1070 a decade ago, Ducey and Republican legislative leaders heeded the warnings and raised the white flag.
But beyond the negative impact on Arizona’s reputation and economy, we can’t ignore the fact that this latest scheme would have produced a far greater human toll. The next time Republicans choose to go down this anti-immigrant road, they should heed the sobering words of a man who has been immersed in this issue for years. Rev. Sean Carroll, S.J., a Jesuit priest who runs the Kino Border Initiative in Nogales, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora, had this to say recently in the Arizona Republic:
“It’s been a year since the implementation of the ‘Migrant Protection Protocols’ at the U.S.-Mexico border, otherwise known as the Remain in Mexico policy.
“Asylum seekers are forced to wait for months in Mexican border cities in conditions that expose them to kidnapping and assaults, create barriers to access to legal representation, and deny basic rights such as shelter, education and medical care.
“It’s a humanitarian and legal atrocity. The program puts asylum seekers in similar danger of violence that they are fleeing in the first place. It’s a stain on the nation’s conscience.
“The U.S. will live with the legacy of horror inflicted on tens of thousands of human beings. It’ll live knowing that, of all the ways we could have responded to the needs of people who arrived at our borders beginning in 2019, the country chose the cruelest.
“We can’t rewrite history and undo the trauma of the past year. We can’t bring back the people who have died or erase the rapes, kidnappings and illnesses that have occurred.
“But we can demand the White House change course. Let’s come together to demand the immediate end of the Remain In Mexico policy and offer asylum seekers fleeing violence a place to live in peace.”
Do we really want our constitution to contain a permanent restriction on Arizona communities that one day might want to open their hearts to families seeking asylum? Of course not.
Team Bloomberg’s cash juggernaut hits AZ
As the March 17 Democratic presidential preference election early ballots hit our mailboxes, we are being pummeled by Michael Bloomberg’s television ads. I’ve never seen such a political campaign media onslaught in Arizona.
Before his name even appeared on a Democratic primary ballot, Bloomberg had become the highest-spending presidential candidate of all time, dropping more than $400 million. That number is much higher now.
Let’s take a closer look at where Bloomberg dollars are flowing in Arizona, beyond the media blitz.
“The salaries being paid to Bloomberg staffers are well above market rates,” The Intercept reported. “One progressive consultant in Arizona has lost multiple hires to Bloomberg and is having a hard time finding workers…the Bloomberg campaign is offering field organizers $6,000 per month and guaranteed pay through November.”
Typically, those jobs pay $3,000 to $4,000 per month.
Arizona’s “Team Bloomberg” includes senior advisor Joe Wolf (who ran legislator Steve Farley’s unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign in 2018), state director Luis Acosta-Herrera (a former lobbyist for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry), deputy communications director Andrew Tucker (who did communications work within Maricopa County government) and digital director Anaiis Ballesteros (formerly with the and Expect More Arizona). Courtney Frogge (a one-time LD10 candidate), is Bloomberg’s state political director, and Linda Prado (who previously worked for Radar Strategies) is a paid consultant.
The first prominent Arizonan to endorse Bloomberg for president was Fred DuVal, the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Other high-profile figures attended a crowded Feb. 2 campaign kick-off event in downtown Phoenix, including former Phoenix mayors Terry Goddard and Paul Johnson, state Senate Minority Leader David Bradley, and state Rep. César Chávez. Also present were candidates for various offices, including Dr. Hiral Tipirneni (CD6), Deedra Abboud (Maricopa County Board of Supervisors), and Michael Muscato (CD8).
But set aside Bloomberg’s massive spending in Arizona, and instead zero in on his need to apologize for racist policies, questionable comments, and evidence of character flaws.
First it was his longtime “stop and frisk” policy as New York mayor. Then it was his comments questioning the elimination of bank “red-lining” policies during the recession.
And now, we get more apologies for Bloomberg’s profanity and sexism over several decades, as researched and reported by the Washington Post.
As Arizona Mirror columnist Julie Erfle tweeted in response to the Post article, “The last thing this country needs is another billionaire in the White House who has little regard for women, especially when we have two intelligent and highly qualified women running for president.”
Will Bloomberg’s cash infusion into our state overcome his disastrous performance in last week’s Nevada debate? Or will Democratic voters overlook the negatives in the name of accomplishing their number one objective – defeating Donald Trump in November? Maybe.
Is it really coming down to Bernie Sanders versus Mike Bloomberg? Hang onto those early ballots a little longer.