Debating in Mesa, the Republican presidential primary candidates blasted the Obama administration on its handling of the key Arizona issue of immigration.

Frontrunners Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum specifically mentioned Arizona during Wednesday's CNN debate and called for the state's policies to be implemented nationally.

Immigration was the most Arizona-focused issue and one of the few areas where the candidates didn't spar over positions. And unlike questions about economic growth, cutting the deficit, earmarks, birth control or Iran, they didn't attack each other for past statements.

Romney said Arizona's immigration laws are a model to follow. He praised the e-verify program to confirm a potential employee's immigration status, saying it cut the number of undocumented immigrants in the state by 14 percent, compared with 7 percent nationwide. The former Massachusetts governor blasted the Obama administration for its lawsuit against Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law, SB 1070.

"I will drop those lawsuits on day one and I'll also complete the fence," Romney said.

Santorum also gave a nod to Arizona, saying Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Arizona should pursue immigration policies as they see fit. The former New York senator said he would detain and deport undocumented immigrants who are present or seeking employment.

King asked Santorum if he would sanction people who employ undocumented workers performing household work.

"I'm not going to require homeowners to e-verify," Santorum said. "I think that's one step too far."

CNN showed Arpaio in the auditorium when he was first mentioned, drawing cheers from the audience.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul said a welfare state draws illegal immigrants for schooling, healthcare and more. He said rather than the U.S. putting resources on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the nation should deploy more immigration officers on the border with Mexico.

"Certainly this president is not doing a very good job," Paul said.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich touted his work to build a fence along the Mexican border near San Diego, which he said "worked dramatically." But the fence didn't continue because of environmental concerns, Gingrich said he's waive all federal regulations and studies. He estimated the $3 million-a-mile cost of constructing a wall could be done for just 10 percent of that by modernizing government. He pledged to have the fence in place by January 2014.

Gingrich said he would relocate up to half the 23,000 Department of Homeland Security employees to the border states of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

"It is utterly stupid to say the United States government cannot control the border," Gingrich said.

Gingrich said he voted for a 1986 immigration reform bill under President Ronald Reagan, only to get short-changed when Congress later failed to pass legislation to improve border security and a guest-worker program. He said Congress is unable to pass a comprehensive immigration bill today, so he would work on bill at a time. The first, he said, would address border control.

Gov. Jan Brewer fought for Republicans to hold one debate in Arizona to bring some of the state's unique issues into the national debate.

After the debate, Brewer told CNN she was inspired and thought the candidates turned in "fabulous" performances. She said the calls for building a border fence and stronger laws struck a chord with her. Brewer didn't endorse a candidate but praised Gingrich for wanting to work more closely with border states on immigration.

"I like exactly what Newt Gingrich said about really working with the governors of those states, but that doesn't mean that other candidates wouldn't do that," Brewer said.

At a debate viewing party outside the Mesa Arts Center, Mesa resident Steve Ketchum said he was satisfied with the attention local issues got.

"They covered national issues - which we care about - and local ones too, like the border, charter schools, and public education, along with the family," he said.

Tom Carty of Tempe said he agreed with most of what the candidates said about immigration.

"None of their answers really surprised me," Carty said. "The fence, more border patrol, whatever it takes. Those all seem necessary. We need more homeland security. Get them out of Washington and over here."

Andrew Hedlund contributed to this report

Contact writer: (480) 898-6548 or ggroff@evtrib.com

(1) comment

Brittanicus

There is so much corruption in Washington and the state level, which is why illegal entry is not a felony. This is unquestionable tyranny against the will of the people, that Washington DC has no intention of approving any real immigration enforcement? That we must keep paying for everybody who flies in from anywhere, climbs the fence or just parts the simple barbed rusty wire and slips through. I, like millions of other patriotic Americans are furious and frustrated for paying my fair share for the upkeep of anybody who can steal into America. Ron Paul, contender for the White House is correct, when he stated at the last debate in Arizona, put the troops that are in Iran and Afghanistan and deploy them fully armed along the border.

There is only one cure for the corruption in federal agencies and that is joining the TEA PARTY. Thousands of fraudulent programs will be exposed and billions of dollars will be saved. This confronts the rot that has entered the Democratic and the Republican parties, and the astronomical deficit that America is suffering from. Read some unrevealed evidence at Judicial Watch, that is a legal non-profit website. Judicial Watch is the opposite of the Communist backed ACLU; a panderer to the illegal alien invaders. In addition, NumbersUSA gives you in depth analysis of costs to taxpayers and insider news from Congress. Lastly, the positive controversial website of “American Patrol” gives you one-click bridging news editions to the nationwide media, where the truth prevails in articles suppressed by the overwhelming Liberal press. It is only new TEA PARTY leaders will reveal the corrupt in Congress and return us to a small efficient government, with no free crony handouts to wealthy donors.

Why doesn't Congress revise the original E-Verify plus bill introduced by Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Homeland Security Chairman Peter King(R-NY) in 2005? The Border Protection, Anti-terrorism and Illegal Immigration Control Act (H.R. 4437) had all the stringent enforcement needed? It required the use of E-verify and made it a felony to be in the USA illegally. It also increased penalties for employing illegal workers to $7,500 for first time offenses, $15,000 for second offenses, and $40,000 for all subsequent offenses. It also, caused the housing of removed aliens to become a felony crime. It passed in the House by a vote of 239 to 182, but questionably it didn’t find passage in the Senate?

The usual stomach churning zealots complained, so REAL IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT never took center stage, with the combined efforts of a variety of migrant, humanitarian, and religious organizations, and other radical groups. Policies that providing federal or state welfare as UNFUNDED MANDATES forced on all the American population by court order and extorted from your taxes. By neither political party voting for the new mandated version of E-Verify or the Birthright Citizenship bill, millions still attracted by jobs and a free reservoir of welfare programs, will still buy a seat on a international flight as a tourist or just cross that border. If Governor Brown doesn’t veto it, every illegal alien who applies
at the DMV should be reported to ICE; better still have an ICE agent standing by the DMV clerk.

PRIOR TO ANY CHANCE OF OBAMA BEING RETURNED TO THE OVAL OFFICE, EVERY VOTER MUST PUSH THE SENATE AND HOUSE POLITICIANS TO FORCE PASSAGE OF “THE LEGAL WORKFORCE BILL” AND SECONDARY “THE BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP BILL”. VOTERS MUST DRIVE THEIR LAWMAKERS TO DO THEIR BIDDING, AND CALL THEM AT THE OFFICE & TELL THEM THEY WILL BE LOOKING FOR A JOB IF THEY DON’T SPONSOR THESE LAWS? MORE JOBS WILL BE LOST IF WE DO NOT STOP ANOTHER AMNESTY, THE COST $2.4 TRILLION DOLLARS AS STUDIED BY THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION.


To some extent revitalized E-Verify, “the Legal Workforce Act (H.R.2885) will heavily penalize businesses for hiring illegal aliens, who are stealing jobs from the majority of low income workers. Second in line of Merit is the “Birthright Citizenship Bill (H.R.140) that by Amendment, will prevent the welfare abundance of public welfare check assistance to the illegal parent of a child smuggled or already here, if neither parent is a U.S. Citizen.

The E-Verify system can identify illegal migrants and immigrants after hiring and unless they can further substantiate their immigration status, they will be dismissed. This is an easy, none evasive and simple way to qualify an applicant, by inputting the personal data in a company terminal. Then to resolve any discrepancy you travel to nearest Social Security office. Mitt Romney has spelled E-Verify out, as “ATTRITION THROUGH ENFORCEMENT—or Self Deportation. Anything that actually works as “SECURE COMMUNITIES (286 G.), are suddenly under bombardment. The problem that administration sees that is locating illegal aliens through fingerprints, even with individuals with criminal infractions. But the ICE czars in Washington are giving them presidential treatment and not deporting them? Even if they have stolen an American citizens Identification, they are being released back into the mainstream of the country.

Join your chapter of your local TEA PARTY. Only the TEA PARTY LEADERSHIP has the backbone to shred the current tax code and provide a fair and equitable tax system, without any loopholes for anybody. Every possible means available currently and in the future will be utilized to secure our borders, to halt Sanctuary Cities, Chain Migration, but adopt a regulated Guest Worker program, without a path to citizenship. It is solely the obligation of every American voter to check for non citizens registering for all future elections. That every person voting must display official Picture ID, as there has been progressive voting by non citizens. The laws of the 1986 Immigration Reform & Control Act (IRCA) will be reanimated as original was to work. Sanctuary Cities will be banned and official who subscribe to any ordinance protecting illegal aliens will be sanctioned every possible means will be used to remove illegal aliens from this country and benefits stopped. Illegal aliens will not be prosecuted for using stolen ID, including Social Security numbers and birth certificates.

Everybody is complaining about both parties in Washington, but cannot find a few minutes to contact their Senators or Congress persons at 202-224-3121 and demand the vote for both federal MANDATORY E-Verify or amend the ‘Birthright Citizenship' Bill. Once enacted into law a massive exodus will commence, as illegal aliens and family members will return to their country of origin.

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