Arizona senator defends polarizing immigration bill

By Maria Saporta

One of the leading champions of Arizona’s controversial immigration bill passionately defended the state’s need to clamp down on illegal aliens.

State Sen. Russell Pearce, who has had a career in law enforcement, described a dangerous Arizona overrun by gangs and criminals, many of whom have crossed the border into the state illegally.

Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce prepares to talk to LINK delegation about merits of new immigration bill

Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce prepares to talk to LINK delegation about merits of new immigration bill

Pearce told an influential group of about 100 Atlantans on the annual LINK trip said the media’s reporting of the new bill has been full of “misinformation.”

Fulton County Chair John Eaves (center), DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis and developer Robert Voyles listen to Arizona Senator Russell Pearce

Fulton County Chair John Eaves (center), DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis and developer Robert Voyles listen to Arizona Senator Russell Pearce

At one point, Pearce questioned allowed “how the president of the United States can stand up and support law breakers rather than law makers.” Pearce said Phoenix is second in the world in kidnappings after Mexico City.

“Citizens have a constitutional right to stand up and expect the laws to be enforced,” Pearce said. “This bill is really modeled after federal law.”

But Pearce said existing laws are being ignored.

“We are securing the borders in Afghanistan and Iraq and all over the world, but not in our own country,” Pearce said.

Yvonne Williams, president of Perimeter CIDs, stands with Ed Ellis, regional vice president of Kimley-Horn & Associates

Yvonne Williams, president of Perimeter CIDs, stands with Ed Ellis, regional vice president of Kimley-Horn & Associates

He added that bill 1070 doesn’t change the law, it only takes “the handcuffs off of law enforcement and puts them on those who are violating our laws. Enough is enough.”

Leadership Atlanta's Pat Upshaw-Monteith, ARC Chair Tad Leithead and Cherokee Chair Buzz Ahrens wait to hear from Sen. Pearce

Leadership Atlanta's Pat Upshaw-Monteith, ARC Chair Tad Leithead and Cherokee Chair Buzz Ahrens wait to hear from Sen. Pearce

LINK had scheduled Pearce to be on the program with a major opponent of the bill — Daniel Ortega, but Ortega had car trouble and will be speaking to the group on Friday morning.

That gave Pearce the stage to argue for the bill without being challenged. Pearce also dismissed statements made by critics of the bill.

“I keep hearing we are a nation of immigrants,” Pearce said. “That’s a cliché. We are a nation of legal immigrants… We simply want the rule of law. The laws have been on the books forever.”

And Pearce said that the bill prohibits racial profiling, and people can only be asked to show their residency papers only if there has been questionable behavior.

But when pressed about what kind of actions would give probable cause for people to be stopped, Pearce avoided the question.

Blank Foundation's Penny McPhee, Metro Atlanta Chamber's Sam Williams, ARC Chairman Tad Leithead and Atlanta's Luz Borrero chat at LINK reception

Blank Foundation's Penny McPhee, Metro Atlanta Chamber's Sam Williams, ARC Chairman Tad Leithead and Atlanta's Luz Borrero chat at LINK reception

Asked about whether he was concerned about the negative attention that Arizona has received because of the bill (conventions are canceling and it’s still a hot national story a week after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill, Pearce said no.

Instead, he believes it will lead to more business and tourism coming to Arizona because it will become a safer state.

Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce talks to Atlanta's LINK delegation

Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce talks to Atlanta's LINK delegation

“This is what we should have done 30 years ago,” Pearce said. “Things are bad or worse than they have ever been on that border. We have an obligation to protect our borders. Here in Arizona, we are going to do it, and we’re not going to apologize for it.”

Lyle Harris rejoins SaportaReport after seven years as MARTA’s chief spokesman. He will be covering three topics critically important to the future of our city, our region and the state of Georgia: Transit and transportation, the media, and marijuana legislation.

6 replies
  1. Yr1215 says:

    Some of his points are not way off base. We are a nation of immigrants. We are also a nation that has (or had) a long history of respect for the law and what I’ll just call civility (or civilization). Even back to the founding fathers who were obviously revolutionaries.

    There are good laws and bad laws. And bad laws (Jim Crow, etc.) should be protested and changed. But every nation has immigration laws. Ours have to be among the least enforced.

    I am pro immigration, even increased immigration, but managed immigration. I can certainly understand the opposition and frustration about the unsecured border and rampant chaos occurring in CA/AZ/NM/TX.

    I’m not entirely sure how this topic is very relevant to Atlanta, despite the existence of a significant latino and hispanic population here. Still, an interesting topic.Report

    Reply
  2. Tiger Woods + Jesse James = SuperBAD meets SuperEVIL in "SUPERUGLY!" says:

    Yr 1215, I can also understand Arizona’s frustration with the lack of Federal enforcement on the border, but to try and deal with by passing flawed and clearly not too well thought out legislation like this just is NOT SMART! Why not just expand the 287(g) program to cover all jails in Arizona statewide? Under the 287(g) program everybody checked into the jail gets their legal status checked and everyone who is not legal becomes eligible for deportation and is turned over to the Feds almost instantly for removal from the country. Wouldn’t just merely quietly expanding 287(g) have been a much smarter way of dealing with illegal immigration and its ill-effects than basically appearing to put a target on backs and foreheads on all immigrants with poorly written unconstitutionally-flawed legislation that is open to numerous expensive legal challenges from nearly every direction, badly sullies the state’s image in the court of public opinion and costs the state of Arizona and its localities almost all of its much-needed tourism and convention dollars?Report

    Reply
  3. Tiger Woods + Jesse James = SuperBAD meets SuperEVIL in "SUPERUGLY!" says:

    “I’m not entirely sure how this topic is very relevant to Atlanta, despite the existence of a significant latino and hispanic population here. Still, an interesting topic.”

    Yr1215, it’s relevant to Atlanta as an example of what would happen to the local tourism and convention business and the local economy in the case that some of our local best and brightest political minds get the idea to craft and enact similar legislation here in Georgia. Though, to their “credit”, I don’t think that the Georgia Legislature is anywhere near as ambitious as their Arizona counterparts while the much larger Fortune 500-anchored business community in Atlanta would never allow that type of flawed bank account-busting legislation to become law here, because unlike Arizona State Senator Pierce and his ilk, they like the color of green, a color to which Arizona has sometimes shown an aversion to in the past with it’s stubborn and misguided legislative actions.Report

    Reply
  4. maki says:

    leticia olalia morales of 15501 pasadena ave #8 tustin ca 92780 submitted fake employment records to obtain a US work visa. she also used fake documents and paid $5000.00 for a US tourist visa. she is now applying for citizenship.Report

    Reply

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