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January 28, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Immigration Reform

  |   Video
  • A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators have proposed a blueprint for immigration reform that they hope to pass this summer. ASU political science professor Rudy Espino comments on the politics of getting comprehensive immigration reform through Congress.
  • Rudy Espino - Political Science Professor, ASU
Category: Immigration   |   Keywords: ASU, immigration, reform, senator, mccain, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome for "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. A bipartisan group of U.S. senators today announced a framework for comprehensive immigration reform. Arizona Senator John McCain is one of the key lawmakers pushing the effort, McCain and Senator Charles Schumer of New York made the announcement on immigration reform this morning.

Sen. Charles Schumer: For the first, for the first time ever, there is more political risk in opposing immigration reform than in supporting it. We believe that we have a window of opportunity to act. But we will only succeed if the effort is bipartisan. The key to our compromise is to recognize that Americans overwhelmingly oppose illegal immigration and support legal immigration. To this end, our framework contains four basic pillars. First, we create a tough, but fair path to citizenship. For illegal immigrants, currently living in the United States, and that is contingent upon securing our borders. Second, we reform our legal immigration system to better recognize the importance of characteristics that will help build the American economy and strengthen the American families. And third, we create an effective employment verification system that will prevent identity theft and end the hiring of future unauthorized workers and lastly, we establish an improved process for admitting future workers to serve our nation's workforce needs, while simultaneously protecting all workers.

Sen. John McCain: We have been too content for too long to allow individuals to mow our lawn, and serve our food, and clean our homes, and even watch our children while not affording them the benefits that make our country so great. I think everyone agrees that it's not beneficial for our country, to have these people here hidden in the shadows. Let's create a system to bring them forward, allow them to settle their debt to society, and to fulfill the necessary requirements to become law-abiding citizens of this country. This is consistent with our country's tradition of being a nation of laws and nation of immigrants.

Ted Simons: Here now to talk about today's announcement and the corresponding politics involved, is Rudy Espino the professor of ASU's -- a professor at ASU School of Politics and Global Studies. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Rudy Espino: Thank you

Ted Simons: That framework, those pillars. Talk about the viability.

Rudy Espino: Right now, they are presented in really vague terms. And in its current state, it seems like, they have created vague to create buy-in, especially from fellow Senate Republicans, but especially on the house side, which we have to keep in mind, is controlled by the Republican party. So, right now, it seems very viable, but it only takes one Senator, one member of the house to insert what we might call a poison pill amendment. That just makes it unacceptable to, to the majority of the, of the body of the Senate and a majority of the body of the house. And so that's one thing that we have to keep in mind is, is Congress is slow, it's inefficient, it's designed to be -- it's designed to be a deliberative body, and again, multiple veto points and access points for any legislator to, to influence or stop the legislation in its tracks.

Ted Simons: Is the tough but fair path to citizenship one of those four pillars? Is that the one you think that might have the biggest sticking point?

Rudy Espino: I think so because, because this is what, what, some people would call amnesty. And once -- you did not hear the Senators using that term. It's a politically charged term. Once you start using that term, you start getting a lot of opposition. created. Especially among conservative Republicans. And so, this gang, they try to avoid that, and I mentioned there will be a lot of back room wheeling and dealing, especially with, with Republican leadership in the Senate, and Mitch McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate, has indicated right now that he's not too, too happy about what's being proposed, and then we still have to hear what's, what's being indicated on the house side, particularly, by the speaker Boehner and Eric Cantor.

Ted Simons: The idea of the border having to be secured, before, before this immigration reform, the comprehensive nature of it goes forward. Who decides that the border is finally secure?

Rudy Espino: Well, that's something that right now, they might talk about creating a commission in charge of, of setting standards, and determining whether throws standards have been met, but, this has been the sticking pointed in the past. That has prevent comprehensive immigration reform to get past, most recently in 2007, with McCain. It fell apart because the Republicans said we have to talk about a secure border first. But, we have to recognize, too, that that, having a 100% secure border will be 100% impossible to do, and every border will have that opportunity for one person to get through it. And so that's just an impossible standard to meet, and if that's the standard that this commission and Congress sets, then we can, you know, we won't see, see this immigration reform proposal get passed.

Ted Simons: And indeed, if this commission will consist, apparently, of border Governors, attorney generals, attorneys general from border states and other leaders, sheriffs and such, you are talking about in Arizona, a whole host of people that are very strong on immigration enforcement. And that does not sound like it will be an easy thing to accomplish.

Rudy Espino: No, it's not, and again, there is -- so we talked about just takes one legislator within Congress to stop something, on this commission, it could just take one person, that's on this commission, particularly some key person here in Arizona, that stops, that, you know, a path to citizenship, in its tracks.

Ted Simons: And the idea of, of passing background checks. You have to pay fines. You have to pay back taxes, and back taxes, half these folks, have, you know, the wrong social security card numbers, and they have been paying taxes. How do we figure out how much they paid, and how much they would have to owe? That seems like that's going to be difficult to overcome.

Rudy Espino: Not just difficult but it will be costly. And, and for those people seeking a pathway to citizenship, but also, too, I think what we're going to see is, is should this move forward, and get pass, we're going to see another economy spring up. A lot of middlemen trying to advise individuals to, to help them to navigate, and so not only will immigrants be having to pay these taxes but they are going to have to pay some, some middleman tax, to help them to, to negotiate, navigate that, the byzantine process that Congress has created.

Ted Simons: They will also have to learn English, which means someone will have to determine if they have learned English.

Rudy Espino: Right, and that's where another economy sprouts up, too. The ESL classes.

Ted Simons: Now, the dreamers and farm workers are exempt, correct? Why is that?

Rudy Espino: They would be, be -- well, they meet different guidelines, the dreamers, and there is also -- there's been talk about the Dream Act so, this is largely going to be affecting the people that came here at an adult age, who are anticipating it will affect 11 million undocumented immigrants here, and there is a process by which, you know, their entry into the United States, is worked out with their employers and, and sent back after a certain amount of time. So again, this is going to hit a certain segment of the illegal immigrants here in Arizona.

Ted Simons: Ok. As far as a timetable is concerned, s there any indication of how long it would take to adopt these kinds of principles?

Rudy Espino: No, there is not. But, if we use, use, let's say, past major legislation, and Congress as a guideline, we can expect, if it gets done, it would take a look at least a year if not year and a half before we see it get pass out. And you know, just look at health care reform legislation. It took year and a half from the time that it was introduced and started, initiated by the President, to, to getting out of Congress. So, we may be talking about 20, you know, 2014, yeah, heading into the next mid-term election brings we see there being a realization.

Ted Simons: So, let's stay with politics here and take a look at the big picture. Why this announcement, why now?

Rudy Espino: I think in part because Republicans, or Democrats have always been pushing for it, but certain Republicans in the Senate have been looking past the general election results from 2012, and recognize this is always going to be front and center. If they are going to, to push in the back burner it could be another, another electoral thorn. It could cost them more elections in 2014 like we saw in 2012. But, put this behind you as soon as you can because it might alienate the base, but we know that voters if we get quickly, and so, don't alienate the base immediately. And hopefully, get this passed so that they forget, forgive and forget come 2014.

Ted Simons: But, from the Republican perspective, are Republicans in the Senate and in general, do they think that this is the right thing to do? Or, as we heard Senator McCain, basically, say, it's politically necessary. That's the thing. And with that in mind, how much goodwill will they get from the Latino community if all we're saying is, we have got to do this because we need to keep people in the party, as opposed to it's the right thing to do.

Rudy Espino: Right. And so, McCain's statement there, it shows that, that there is political, pragmatic reasons, and it has nothing to do with the moral and ethical reasons why we should be doing this. And, but to your question as to how much goodwill will there engender among the voters, maybe not whole lot, and Latino voters were disaffect by the Republican party, brand name in the last few years but there's been some interesting survey research conducted by the Latino decisions, polling group that have asked voters, Latino voters across the country, if, if the Republicans, in Congress, took a leadership role, on, on pushing for comprehensive immigration reform would in that make you more or less likely to vote for the Republican party? The majority of voters said it would make them more likely, and in fact, here in Arizona, 80% of voters indicated that that would make them more likely to vote for the Republican party even though right now they are voting for Democrats. So, this shows that the, that, that the Latino electoral base is amenable to change their party affiliation and start listening to the candidates and start voting for them.

Ted Simons: So speaker Boehner, does he take the lead? Who fakes the lead in the house. The house is, is -- that's the crux of all of this.

Rudy Espino: Right. Speaker Boehner, will probably be a little scared how he's going to have to proceed in taking this up in the house. We have seen him struggle with his raucous Tea Party colleagues, and that's something in that he has to figure out how to navigate so he's probably going to lean on some key Hispanic Republicans, perhaps some of your Cuban representatives, Cuban Republican representatives from Florida, who have in the past indicated the need for comprehensive immigration reform. So, he probably would lean on them to be the spokesperson for the Republican party in the house.

Ted Simons: And as far as the Senate is concerned, will there be one person to take the lead on this? The McCain, Schumer?

Rudy Espino: And that's probably what we're going to be calling this legislation. Just like we were calling it McCain-Kennedy in 2007.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us, we appreciate it.

Rudy Espino: Thank you.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton

  |   Video
  • A discussion with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton about public policy and current events at City Hall.
  • Greg Stanton - Mayor, Phoenix
Category: Government   |   Keywords: phoenix, mayor, stanton, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton will be in Las Vegas at the invitation of the White House for President Barack Obama's announcement on immigration reform. Mayor Stanton is here every month and hour to discuss issues affecting Phoenix, and the Mayor joins us now. Good to see you, and thanks for joining us.

Mayor Greg Stanton: It's good to be on the show, thank you.

Ted Simons: And you are in Las Vegas for the President's immigration speech, correct?

Mayor Greg Stanton: I will be there on flight early morning, and see the President about noon tomorrow.

Ted Simons: And talk about immigration reform. Talk about the issue in Arizona, and this is, this is, obviously, decisive, and what new is happening.

Mayor Greg Stanton: It seems that good policy and good politics are coming together right at the right time. And there was a big announcement today by the, by the bipartisan group of Senators including our own two Senator, Senator Flake and McCain. I am very proud of them for stepping out to announce some principles in immigration reform which includes comprehensive immigration reform. I don't know what the President is going for announce tomorrow but I expect it will be very much along the same vein. It seems that, that in a very bipartisan way, common sense is going to prevail, and we will see comprehensive immigration reform during this, during this session.

Ted Simons: And what influence can a Mayor have in this debate?

Mayor Greg Stanton: Well, to be frank, I think that people still listen to Mayors and people look at cities and look at Mayors and view us as functional forms of Government. They may have lost confidence in Washington because some of the, some of the craziness that's going on back there, and I think that they look at cities and still say, we have confidence in those folks, and I think that Mayors represent main street America. We represent real business. Mom and Pop business, and I believe strongly that, that good, strong, comprehensive immigration reform is good for our economy. Passage of the Dream Act is going to be great for our economy, and we need to get past the decisiveness and focus on development policy, and immigration reform will help us a lot here in Arizona.

Ted Simons: A recent quote got some attention, and we should never let border security get in the way of the economy. What did you mean by that?

Mayor Greg Stanton: I'll tell you exactly what I meant. Look, we should have good border security policy, but we shouldn’t focus in on border security and not be able to do trade with our friends down in Mexico. We know that Mexico is our number one trade partner, and will grow as our trade partner. There are a lot of jobs here in Arizona, particularly with international trade in Mexico. So as we deal with the difficult issues of immigration. As we focus in on fighting the drug cartels, which are problem, let's not do it in a way that, that does not allow us to grow our economy with increased trade to Mexico. One shouldn't be the opposite of the other. We can accomplish both at the same time, and I think that good comprehensive immigration reform will go long way to help us accomplish that goal.

Ted Simons: Have we not accomplish both here in recent years?

Mayor Greg Stanton: Well, the reality is this, in Arizona, we have a long way to go when it comes to, to increasing trade with Mexico, and in part, it's because of the decisive bills that have been passed. And we have to send a very different message, that's why it's so important that McCain and flake are leading on this effort. That here in Arizona, we're not decisive, we're a welcoming place, and we're focused in on smart priorities, like jobs, economic development and education, and those have to be our priorities moving forward, and trade with Mexico in the economic development opportunities that go along with it. Are really, really important, and we're not going to pass short-term decisive policies that don't help us in the long run, and in helping our economy and creating jobs here in Arizona.

Ted Simons: I know that you have mentioned immigration reform when you were back in Washington. You criticized Washington for inaction on the budget. And what can D.C. do right now? There is gridlock. The Senate goes one way and the house the other. And what point does a Mayor just, basically, say, do your best and come on back home?

Mayor Greg Stanton: Let me talk about, about unfortunate Washington action on two issues. First and foremost is immigration reform. The lack of action back in Washington on this critically important issue, has hurt us back here in Arizona, as frustrated people here in Arizona, has frustrated me for a long period of time. I hope we can get that on the budget. Look, there was some activity on taxes, on New Year’s Day. The so-called fiscal cliff. People need to understand that they did not solve the issue of sequestration. Sequestration, if it goes through, will be devastating to a local economy. Hurting about 50,000 jobs, eliminating 50,000 jobs, including almost 40,000 jobs in defense, in aerospace, and we have to fight t it's not good public policy, it's not good for our economy, and it could send us back into a recession. And we understand that, that cuts have to be made, but the sequestration was never meant to be public policy, but meant to, to scare members of Congress, and unfortunately, they could not get together and reach bipartisan compromise. We still have the looming threat of sequestration hanging over our heads, and I'm a big city Mayor. And I'm going to fight that.

Ted Simons: If they are not scared by that, what's going to work?

Mayor Greg Stanton: I think that they will be scared by that. Once the American people realize what an incredible threat it is to our local economy. Look, the economy is starting to do better. We're crawling out from underneath this terrible recession, we have gone through. We cannot, we cannot allow to do something that would send us back into a recession, so the American people have to have their voices heard, and once people realize the amount of job loss that could be created if it goes through, they are going to hear from Arizona, loud and clear.

Ted Simons: And are you really planning a March on Washington regarding this?

Mayor Greg Stanton: Well, there is a group of Mayor who have gotten together. I chair the sequestration task force through the conference of Mayors, and so yes, we are going to use the bully pulpit we have and speak our minds in Washington. I think Mayors still have a voice. I think people still listen to us. They listen to leadership. We represent Main Street America, and I plan to use that voice to fight for jobs here in Arizona.

Ted Simons: And your critics are saying they listen to you during the campaign, regarding the food tax and how you wanted that ended as soon as possible. It is still there, and we're not seeing it ending any time soon, last going on with that?

Mayor Greg Stanton: I was very frustrated by how the food tax went into place. It was done with 24 hours of notice. And, and I suggest we should try to get rid of the food tax as soon as we can, and let's do it in a balanced way, and make sure it does not hurt the public safety or core services. I asked the city manager to present a budget to the city council, at that includes the food tax and one that doesn't. And now we're going to go through public process as we should, as we always do through the budget process, and allow the public to contact myself and the other members of the, of the council about whether they like the choices that would have to be made. We need to make sure the mistakes made at the beginning don't happen now as we go through this important process.

Ted Simons: I guess the critics would say that does not sound like as soon as possible.

Mayor Greg Stanton: Well, my campaign, how I have governed during my first year as Mayor is what I promised during the course of the campaign. Those, those commitments are very, very important. I committed to support local business, and we have done ton in that regard. I committed to support increased transparency, and we have done a ton, and I committed on pension reform, and we have ballot initiative in March, that will save the city a lot of money, so, I have got strong record on, on keeping my commitments, and I'm, I also have a strong record of doing what I can to support public safety, and to support our bond rating, credit rating, I will do everything that I can to support those issues.

Ted Simons: Is there a problem with the message when people point out that, that if the tax still there, and pay raises are given to city employees, that that's going on, as well. They see problem there, do you?

Mayor Greg Stanton: Here's what I voted on to be frank. I did support the momentums of understanding with our labor groups that, restored the, the pay cut that was implemented a few years ago during the 300 million budget deficit at the city. We have done pay study to look at, at where our city employees rank in terms of our cities, and other jobs, and seeing that our city, in terms of our, our salary structure, is not out of line. We have made commitment with certain jobs that are out of line to, to try to fix that, so we can be competitive in terms of recruiting and retaining the very best employees, and so on the issue of, of working with our labor groups and whether it's a pay raise when you are restoring the cuts made, I want to be as frank as possible.

Ted Simons: But, again, what people say is, you are a politician, and you know how things look and appear. And food tax still in place, and pay raises going on. That, that, that gets a lot of folks riled up.

Mayor Greg Stanton: Again, let me be frank, I asked the city manager to prepare budget with the food tax, I asked the city manager to prepare it without the food tax, and we’re going to go through a public process, we're going to have, record number of public budget hearings, we're going to be taking testimony online, and I will be doing a live online televised budge hearing where people can ask questions. We want, we won awards for how transparency our process is, so it's important that we go through the process, and on that very issue just described, people have full and fair opportunity to, to get their point across, of course.

Ted Simons: How long will that take?

Mayor Greg Stanton: A few months, this will happen over the next three months. We're following the budget timeline. I want to be sure that it goes through more transparency so we have as much public input as possible.

Ted Simons: The pension reform issue hits the ballot when?

Mayor Greg Stanton: In early March. We have voted on the council, we unanimously voted on the city council to put pension reform on the ballot if it is supported by the voters, and I am confident that, that it will be, and it will save the city over 600 million over next 20 to 25 years. Essentially, we're asking our, our city employees, to pay more in order to receive the pension. And so, that's what's going to occur, as employees come into the city, and instead of the current system where right now, it's about a 4-1 disparity in terms of what the employees pay, versus the city pays, and we're going to be asking that to be evened out so it's a partnership at 50-50. We'll save the city general fund, again, hundreds of millions over the next 20, 25 years, and it is smart public policy, and it's good, strong public policy, and it will save the taxpayers a lot of money, the right thing to do.

Ted Simons: Last question, the guns, the issue of background collection and those things, you want background checks improved, increased, and background checks for everyone who buys gun. Again, your Mayor, you are a Mayor of a major city but how much can you move this process along?

Mayor Greg Stanton: Well, again, this is going to be one of the hot issues back in Washington now, by the way, I hope that, that the gun issue and the issue of gun safety doesn't get in the way. We need to move forward with that right now, and now, now the, is the, now is the time. And I believe the universal background checks are good, common sense, and improvements to, to the issue of gun safety. Look, we want to minimize to the extent possible, take common sense approaches. We support the second amendment. I support the second amendment. But universal background check. I think is a good, common sense approach to make sure that we know who is acquiring these weapons. And I think we require it of gun stores, and we ought to make sure that we require it for other gun sales, as well. It makes common sense.

Ted Simons: What about high capacity magazines?

Mayor Greg Stanton: I did sign onto the U.S. conference of Mayors letter to the President, asking for improvements on the issue of gun violence, and gun safety. We want to reduce the amount of gun violence.

Ted Simons: Mayor, good to see and you thanks for joining us.

Mayor Greg Stanton: Great to be here. Thank you.