Talk about back to the future.
Yep, if you’ve been paying attention to the campaigns of Arizona politicians thus far, you’d swear we were back in the good old days of SB 1070, Russell Pearce, and the Guv with her finger wagging in the President’s face.
Now, you and I can guess why almost all the candidates for the Republican gubernatorial nomination and even some candidates for secretary of state and state superintendent of public instruction are focusing on illegal immigration: The kids coming from Central America.
As much as both sides of that issue try to oversimplify it, most of us understand the complexity of the problem. We try to balance our compassion for these kids, kids who are fleeing the daily horror of massive murders in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, with our desire to have an enforceable border.
Congress back in 2008, in a rare bipartisan act, recognized the plight of these kids, designating them refugees who would be treated differently than illegal immigrants coming from Mexico. Add to that how smuggling cartels have exploited President Obama’s action that protects the so-called “Dreamers,” and we’ve had a flood of kids from Central America.
For some Americans, the reaction has been swift: Send them back to their home countries, now.
For others, it’s been equally swift: We have to take these kids in, or at least give them the treatment under the 2008 law.
It’s a tough one, isn’t it? We clearly don’t want folks simply crossing our border with impunity, but we also fear that returning those kids to their home countries might be a death sentence for them.
So what we need is a careful, sober examination of the problem and a fair solution, one that might require, gulp, compromise.
But that’s not what we’re getting in the current Arizona campaigns.
On the governor’s side, it seems that the two front runners, Christine Jones and Doug Ducey, are trying to out-tough each other, the result being ludicrous advertising. In fact, if you go to their websites, the first thing you’ll see is their silly ads.
So Jones says this: She’ll “send 1200 troops to the border, use technology to monitor who’s coming and going, finish the fence, and send Obama the bill.”
And who will pay for all that before a Governor Jones will “send Obama the bill”?
That’d be us.
Ducey’s equally hard-nosed, as he claims, “our southern border remains wide open and unprotected.”
So what would a Governor Ducey do? Everything, including — and I’m not making this up — satellites.
Who knew Arizona has a space program? Where exactly will the Governor launch those satellites from?
And then there’s Andrew Thomas, candidate for governor, disbarred attorney, disgraced former Maricopa County Attorney.
Oh, and defender of Arizona, because if you’ve seen his commercial, he single-handedly stopped illegal immigration in Arizona.
“When I enforce the law, they fled the state.” And the narrator says, as an outline of the state is filled in by a Mexican flag, “vote for Andrew Thomas, before it’s too late.”
But the reality is this: Actual illegal immigration into Arizona is much lower, and the once worst for illegal immigration — the Tucson sector — actually has had a 4-percent decrease in kids coming across, according to statistics cited in the National Review, a conservative publication. Part of the reason for this: President Obama added 1,000 Border Patrol agents to that sector, making it the largest-staffed sector on the southern border. n fact, the number of illegal immigrants captured on the Arizona border has dropped by 50 percent in the last four years.
No matter, though. Our Republicans are exploiting the kids from Central America to show how tough they are for their Republican primary voters.
What an insult to Republican voters, right?
After all, Ducey, Jones and Thomas think that these voters don’t understand that there are more pressing issues than illegal immigration in 2014 Arizona.
Issues like our economy, which has one of the worst recoveries from the Bush Recession. We are one of the handful of states that hasn’t recovered the jobs lost in that recession, even as the nation as a whole has recovered all of the jobs that disappeared during that time. In fact, Arizona has recovered only 57 percenet of the lost jobs.
So maybe our candidates should tell us how they’ll help improve our economy. Oh, they do. Their solution? Cut taxes. In fact, Ducey wants to work towards eliminating the Arizona income tax.
I think we’ve seen this picture before, right here, right now. The Arizona legislature has cut Arizona’s taxes in all areas, and our economy still struggles to keep up with even the tepid Obama Recovery nationwide.
Yet our Republican candidates give the simplistic answer: More cuts!
Of all the Republican candidates, only Mesa’s Scott Smith seems to want to speak to Arizona voters as if they’re adults, adults who can understand how complex issues are and who want thoughtful solutions rather than talking points.
That behavior by Smith is refreshing, as candidates on both sides tend to treat us as kids watching commercials that’ll lure us into buying something we shouldn’t.
Hopefully, Smith wins the primary and engages the Democratic candidate, Fred Duval, in an intelligent debate of the issues.
Worst case? Simplistic Ducey or Jones — with their oodles of money — get the nomination and gives us more months of sound bites that demean the voters.