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April 18, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

Politics of Immigration Reform

  |   Video
  • A comprehensive immigration reform bill has been introduced after years of talk and delay caused by the politics surrounding the bill. The political landscape now seems favorable for the measure. Associate Professor Lisa Magana of the Arizona State University School of Transborder Studies will discuss the politics around the immigration bill.
  • Lisa Magana - Associate Professor, Arizona State University School of Transborder Studies
Category: Immigration   |   Keywords: ASU, politics, immigration, reform,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: A comprehensive immigration bill was formally introduced today in the U.S. Senate after years of political wrangling over the issue. Joining us to talk about where the politics of immigration reform go from here is Lisa Magana, associate professor of ASU's School of Transborder Studies. It's good to have you here.

Lisa Magana: Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons: Lisa, are you surprised the bill has made it so far?

Lisa Magana: I'm excited, there's so much going on in terms of immigration and politics it's hard to keep up. I think the reason this all started was the reelection of President Barack Obama, quite honestly. I think that politicians underestimated the Latino vote. I think that's one of the reasons we have a bipartisan approach to this. I think that Republicans are really trying to rebrand themselves, and trying to court more Latinos, because it was such a powerful constituency. We know that 70% of Latinos voted for President Obama.

Ted Simons: Before we get into some more focused questions here, with something like this, let's say the outline of this does wind up passing and becomes law. The Latino vote, does it seismically shift to the Republican Party? What happens?

Lisa Magana: You know, that's a good question. A couple things before actually voting, one of the things we saw was that when a politician's parties were anti-immigrant, it came off as being anti-Latino. So a lot of kind of counterintuitive, that a lot of the anti-immigrant rhetoric actually galvanized people politically. Not just in terms of voting but people organizing. I think in the future we will see a lot of people that will remember what happened with the anti-immigrant stuff. I don't necessarily think that people, if this passes -- and I think it will -- people will automatically unify with one party versus the other, but they will instead think about the issues. I do think this will have a big impact.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about interparty kind of stuff. Impacts on Republicans and Democrats who support the bill within their own party.

Lisa Magana: That's what's so clear right now. I was just reading, for example, Senator Rubio, one of the Gang of Eight, the eight senators, four Democrats and Republicans that put this bill together. He's getting a lot of push-back. There are conservatives within the Republican Party that don't think we should do anything for immigrants until we "secure the border." It's enforcement first and then the sort of servicing aspect of it. It's not so clear-cut how unified the party is, in terms of the Republican side. I think there's a little more solidarity I guess on the side of the Democrats.

Ted Simons: Okay. So for the Republican side, though, does that mean primary opposition? Does that mean trouble down the pike here?

Lisa Magana: I think so. I think before we do any immigration reform, some people believe -- I think it's the most conservative part of the party -- that we have to have enforcement first and secure the border. We shouldn't do anything about these immigrants in the country until the border is secure. There's a lot of talk about what that actually means, securing the border. I have some issues with that myself, because it's not so clear-cut. The other thing about this idea that is in terms of politics you're going to see a group of people on both sides that are really going to think about this issue.

Ted Simons: What about Democrats that might oppose it? Probably not too much, too many out there, but those who do, what kind of repercussions there?

Lisa Magana: In terms of policy and Democratic opposition, it would be in terms of labor. There was a lot of talk, compromise before anything came out of this. Mostly in terms of the temporary worker program or the H.B. workers. And also in terms of what wages would be paid to these immigrant workers. There was a lot of compromise that had to go on before that.

Ted Simons: What about fallout there?

Lisa Magana: They have come to an agreement, and I think that's one of the reasons they were able to come to some sort of proposal.

Ted Simons: Enforcement hawks, what did they get, what did they give up?

Lisa Magana: Enforcement hawks, according to this policy there's a few things. One is more fence, more of the fence at the border. Hiring of more border patrol is the other thing. The other part is there is an assessment where they want to essentially look at a percentage. It's kind of wacky -- a percentage of how many people are apprehended via each border sector. It's a very strange way of trying to assess --

Ted Simons: 90%, isn't it?

Lisa Magana: 90%. There's tons of apprehension data. The problem with that is it's not the best indication of good immigration policy. Somebody could be apprehended more than one time. Lots of people being apprehended means you're doing a good job, or lots of people being apprehended means you're not doing a good job and people are able to circumvent.

Ted Simons: What did business give up?

Lisa Magana: I think business, they have tighter E-verify. There's going to be tighter restrictions on what a businessperson has to do when they hire an employer, particularly an immigrant. In the proposal there are stricter penalties on employers, although Arizona has the toughest, as you know, employer sanctions law in the country. There's going to be a sort of picture looking at your biometric -- yeah. So there's a tougher E-Verify and tougher punishment for employers. Also in the policy is a -- more visas for high skilled labor. That was the other thing.

Ted Simons: Do you see problems with certain aspects of the bill? I'm guessing amendments will come flying here and there and some will stick and some won't. What are you seeing?

Lisa Magana: I think the biggest problem is trying to assess effectiveness or what that means, securing the border. Let me just remind you, or bring this up Half of the 11 million people are people that overstayed their visas, they came in legally, not crossing through the border the way we like to think about this. People come in legally, this policy has nothing that really addresses Visa over stayers. It stresses the idea of secure the border and make it tough.

Ted Simons: Is this likely to pass Congress?

Lisa Magana: I think there will be a lot of fights. I have some problems also with the servicing part I think is going to be criticized. I think ultimately it will be passed.

Ted Simons: Very good. Good speaking with you.

Lisa Magana: Appreciate the opportunity, thank you.

Resolution Copper Mine

  |   Video
  • We heard earlier in the week from Residents of Superior who oppose a land swap to allow the Resolution Copper mine to be built near the town. Mila Besich-Lira, a long-time Superior resident, will talk about her support for the land swap.
  • Mila Besich-Lira
  • Long-time Superior resident
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: superior, copper mine, environment, around arizona,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: On Monday we heard from residents of Superior who are against a proposed land swap that would allow a massive copper mine to be built near the town. Tonight we hear from Mila Besich-Lira, and she favors the land swap. Good to have you here.

Mila Besich-Lira: Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons: Why is this a good thing for Superior?

Mila Besich-Lira: This is a very good thing for Superior because for generations we have been a copper mining region. Originally for silver, and now copper is part of our universe. This is a good thing for us, we need this.

Ted Simons: What kind of jobs are we talking about here?

Mila Besich-Lira: 3,700 . We're talking about high tech jobs, robotics, people who can fix robots. This isn't the mining my great grandfather did, I've been in the community for four generations.

Ted Simons: We had some opponents on earlier in the week and they are worried about that. They say some of these jobs folks in Superior may not qualify for, or they may not be available to them.

Mila Besich-Lira: They are worried about that, but that's a sad thing to worry about. We should be training our students to be able to have those jobs. I think we're going to be able to do that just fine.

Ted Simons: You think so?

Mila Besich-Lira: I'm confident in that.

Ted Simons: You're confident of jobs and the numbers that are there?

Mila Besich-Lira: Yes, I'm very confident those things will happen for our community.

Ted Simons: Not just the region, but for Superior?

Mila Besich-Lira: For Superior.

Ted Simons: As far as the ex-mayor, we had Roy Chavez on, he was concerned regarding the NEPA process. These are environmental studies down to make sure the land is not going to be damaged to a certain extent. I want to hear what you have to say about what he had to say, because he was concerned there are no NEPA studies in place prior to the land swap. Let's listen.

SOT: I do not believe that the general public in the community and region actually realize the impact that this operation is taking on. Without a mining plan of operation, Ted, we've asked simple questions. How is the ore going to be extracted? Where is it going to be processed, crushed, milled? Right now there's an issue going on in regards to the waste, disposal of the waste, the byproduct.

Ted Simons: We have the NEPA concerns, no mining plan of operation. Are these concerns to you?

Mila Besich-Lira: There is a mining plan of operation. All mines are required to have those. But the regulations are in place and I'm confident, as I said before, I'm very confident this is a good thing for Superior.

Ted Simons: Back to the NEPA issue. Let's hear what Ms. Kiki Peralta had to say.

SOT: The major sticking point is the fact that they don't want to do the NEPA studies prior to this land swap. We want to know what's going to happen before, you know, we don't want projections or what they think is going to happen. We'd like to see the studies done prior so that we know.

Ted Simons: Would you like to see the studies done prior?

Mila Besich-Lira: The studies are being done as we speak. The mine plans of operations are being done and communicated to the public as parts of them are being done. And once that mine plan of operations is complete, that will start the NEPA automatically. We need to get this land exchange moving so we can get these jobs working in our community.

Ted Simons: There's some concern, as well, once the land is private, the NEPA study and result, it doesn't matter, that concerns public land. It now becomes private land. Again, respond.

Mila Besich-Lira: The mine will have to follow all the regulations, it doesn't matter if it's private or public land. The regulations that the state imposes, the EPA, I'm confident that our community will be protected environmentally.

Ted Simons: How much is this dividing the community?

Mila Besich-Lira: Immensely. The divide is just -- it's very sad to see, because our community wants jobs. We want to thrive and we want a diversified economy. But right now there's no plan in place for that. Resolution is part of that plan for us to have a sustainable economy.

Ted Simons: As far as the sustainable economy, the impact directly. There are some that says these foreign firms, they pay little or nothing in the way of royalties. What can you tell us about that?

Mila Besich-Lira: Well, you know, that's the mining laws that are set in place. But what people aren't understanding that is those revenues that come in, the fact that people will have jobs and money to spend, send their children to college, that's important. Those moneys get recirculated into the community. Resolution Copper has provided more money to the town of Superior and communities throughout the region, it has really helped us rebuild our economy and special projects. I'm not worried that the mining companies don't pay the amount of royalties. The investments they have to play, billions of dollars' investment, trickles down into the tax coffers, you know, fairly.

Ted Simons: What about the idea that sacred tribal areas will be affected?

Mila Besich-Lira: You know, in Superior having jobs is sacred. That's what I kind of think is important. Protecting the Native Americans is also very important, and what their needs are. But we need to sit at the table and figure out how to preserve those things together.

Ted Simons: Why do you think there is so much opposition to this land swap?

Mila Besich-Lira: I think the opposition has come out of just fear and people not listening to what's really going on. I think there's a lot of specialty -- special interests that have gotten involved that are not really listening to what people in Superior and the copper corridor really want. We want to go back to work.

Ted Simons: I want to go back to our guests Monday and get one more response from you. This is the idea some are saying that these folks are anti-mine. Kiki Peralta was saying that's far from the case. Let's listen.

SOT: We're not opposed to mining. It's a mining community and basically, you know, my dad was a miner, my husband was a miner. I was the first female laborer to be hired by Magma in 1975. I am not against mining. I am against them circumventing the law to get this land swap. There's a process that needs to be followed and they are not doing that.

Ted Simons: I hear that time and again, you're supposed to go A, B and C. What's happening in Superior is all over the alphabet. How do you respond?

Mila Besich-Lira: I don't think that that is the case. Resolution Copper has been extremely transparent with the community. They host meetings and community sessions for everyone to come and understand step by step of the process and where they are at. If you're not present at those meetings and understanding what's going on, you're going to be in the dark. And I think what's most important is that you listen to what Resolution is saying, understanding the NEPA law entirely. It's the federal government's responsibility to impose the NEPA. What I would like to see is our community come together and work on these issues and not just stop them completely.

Ted Simons: All right. Very good. I'm glad we had you on the program. Thanks for joining us, appreciate it.

Mila Besich-Lira: Thank you.

Toll Roads

  |   Video
  • A transportation panel of the Maricopa Association of Government voted to move ahead with a study on how to make toll roads work in the Valley. Arizona Republic reporter Sean Holstege will talk about the issue.
  • Sean Holstege - Arizona Republic
Category: Community   |   Keywords: transportation, traffic, roads,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. A transportation panel of the Maricopa Association of Governments approved a study yesterday that looks at how best to make toll roads work in the Phoenix area. Sean Holstege of the "The Arizona Republic" is following the story. Good to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

Sean Holstege: Thanks for inviting me.

Ted Simons: Sounds like we're getting close to toll roads here?

Sean Holstege: It's being studied, we've gone further in the region than ever before. It took them two years to get to this point, and the basic question was, will it work. The answer was yes, let's move forward, and the panel voted to move into the next phase of the study.

Ted Simons: The preliminary study was a couple of years ago. What did that look at?

Sean Holstege: The results of that study will be out on Wednesday.

Ted Simons: Yeah, okay.

Sean Holstege: They concluded they are feasible and they pay for themselves, and they relieve congestion. They concluded basically they would work. The question now is what would they look like, how well would they work, where would you put them, what would that system entail.

Ted Simons: I want to get to more focused questions in just a second. Are we talking about solo commuters? And are we talking about carpool lanes?

Sean Holstege: They call them carpool lane conversions. They are called hot lanes in transportation jargon. What a lot of regions have done is take the carpool lanes and charge a toll if they wanted to drive solo in the carpool lanes. The theory being, you'd make up time. The traffic would move smoother if you work out some of those knots of traffic.

One of the complaints I’m hearing all the time is I'm driving in the regular lane, over to my left there's nobody in that lane. Why do we have these carpool lanes? One of the answers, let's get more cars in the lane to get more traffic moving through the whole system.

Ted Simons: Another system is, let's build more lanes?

Sean Holstege: That's the next phase. There’s two ways to do this, one is a straight conversion. The other is the same thing, only adding a second carpool lane with a toll in basically the urban core.

Ted Simons: Yes.

Sean Holstege: One costs $300 million according to estimates, and the other is three billion.

Ted Simons: Yes.

Sean Holstege: Time savings, one versus the other, that's what they have to find out now. And is there any support.

Ted Simons: Are we talking all carpool lanes on all freeways, or just select lanes on select freeways?

Sean Holstege: That was the point of this first study. Do we want to target specific freeways or routes or segments, and the answer is no. We want a system wide carpool lane in the Valley.

Ted Simons: I-10,202 ,101 , the whole nine yards?

Sean Holstege: All of it.

Ted Simons: How much would commuters theoretically be charged?

Sean Holstege: They looked into Denver and Salt Lake City, Utah and Colorado, as sort of pure models to follow. In Utah you can go all the way from Ogden to Provo for no more than two bucks. They charge a variable toll based on how thick the traffic is and how far you're going to go. You'll see a sign that says your toll will be X for X number of miles. In Utah that tops out at $2.00, Colorado tops out at $5.00 California, Texas, other places are more expensive.

Ted Simons: How do they know the congestion?

Sean Holstege: They are monitoring traffic all day, they have monitors watching the traffic, computer modeling the congestion levels and the freeway speeds. They just dynamically calculate. They do that now.

Ted Simons: That's how they do it.

Ted Simons: So if I have my little -- I've paid my money and wind up not in the hot lane, do I get a refund or a rebate?

Sean Holstege: I don't know about that. It comes down to a choice. You look over and say, how much is my time worth to me? It's much more sophisticated than the standard sort of knee-jerk reaction and most people who oppose it. And it is opposed by most people. Why should I be tolled to drive on a freeway I just paid for? It's a common argument. The answer is it's because you're buying time. You can choose not to do it or choose to pay, depending on what you need to do.

Ted Simons: Would we see toll booths like the old days or little transponders, how that is going work?

Sean Holstege: To be determined, again. The phase of the study will wrap up in 2014 . The conventional wisdom is technology has driven a lot of this. Transponders, like the ones in California, are typically the favored system. It could be anything, we don't know yet.

Ted Simons: What about motorcycles and clean air vehicles, now you get to ride in the hot lane. And what about buses?

Sean Holstege: The carpool lane as a carpool lane stays there. All of the above. One of the other benefits they like to tout in selling the hot lane concept is it also frees up time and speed, improves the speed, travel and predictability for the buses. If you don't think the bus on the freeway is a good idea for you now, but you know that it will be, and you know that travel time will be predicted, that improves your transit system, as well.

Ted Simons: Takes the uncertainty out of it.

Sean Holstege: How much would enforcement cost? Right now I think we all see a lot of folks singing a happy tune by themselves in the carpool lane when they shouldn't be there.

Sean Holstege: Big question. The answer is we don't know yet. Part of the answer is it depends on how you frame the system. There could be a public toll road, ADOT could run that system, and contract that out to a private vendor. They could contract the entire thing out and have it as a privately managed lane. If it's contracted out -- and that's how most are done in other states -- those costs are borne by the private contractor. So when MAG does the study and says it'll net X million a year, it incorporates some assumptions about what that cost of enforcement will be.

Ted Simons: You mentioned the criticism, and the idea that we've already paid for these things, and also the idea that these are Lexus lanes. The people who can afford it will be there, and the average Joe and Jane will not be able to afford it. How far are those arguments going to go?

Sean Holstege: We did a very unscientific poll along along with my story. Something like 8% of people found any validity to the idea of converting to a carpool lane. Most thought it was waste of money or it wasn't going to benefit me. If you've driven in Mexico, there's the toll road freeway and the old highway. I've driven on both. That's where the Lexus lane argument comes from. They have done studies of who actually uses these things in California and some other states. People that want to get their kids from day-care and don't want to pay the penalty, it's to their advantage to pay the toll. It works out to be much more representative of society than we would expect.

Ted Simons: End of 2014, and then what?

Sean Holstege: MAG goes out to the public and refines their study, answers some of the questions you're posing. They narrow from the feasibility idea to a plan. By that time they will have specific highways they want to try out. They may do a pilot project and then they go into implementation if there's public support.

Ted Simons: Interesting stuff, good to have you here, thanks for joining us.

Sean Holstege: Thank you.