Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

December 1, 2005


Host: Michael Grant

First Thursday: The Governor on HORIZON


  • Governor Janet Napolitano talks about the issues facing the state.
Guests:
  • Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano -


View Transcript
>> Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon," President Bush in Arizona earlier this week to talk about immigration. We'll get Governor Napolitano's reaction.
Just in time for Christmas, the state has a $750 million budget surplus. But should the state spend, save, or return the money? Plus, Arizona Republican Congressman Jeff Flake will talk about his guest worker program to help solve the illegal immigration problem. That's next on "Horizon."

>> Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by members who provide financial support to this Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

>> Michael Grant:
Good evening, I'm Michael Grant. Welcome to "First Thursday: the Governor on Horizon." Every month Arizona governor Janet Napolitano comes to our set to talk about issues such as immigration and the state's budget. Here with me now is Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, who's recovering from a bout with the flu.

>> Janet Napolitano:
I think I am, yeah. I hope I won't cough too hard during the interview.

>> Michael Grant:
Let's start with immigration. President in town on Monday talking at the air force base, seemed a little tougher maybe on some of the border security issues than I've heard him before, supports a guest worker program, but says absolutely opposed to amnesty. What's your reaction?

>> Janet Napolitano:
I was there. I was there for his briefing, and then for his speech, and at the briefing I was particularly pleased to see the absolute commitment of resources to Arizona. We've been advocating this for three years, but 450 more agents, and I said net more, or just more? One of the shell games that's gotten played on our border is as they say we're adding this many more agents, and they don't tell you how many have been transferred out our retired. 450 in the Tucson sector, another couple hundred in the Yuma sector, unmanned aerial vehicles back in the air, technology about $35 million worth of facilities for the Tucson sector. A barrier around the Goldwater range to keep cars from coming over. There were some very concrete commitments. That's been a long-time coming. And then he talked of course about no amnesty, but I don't think anybody is talking about amnesty. We are talking about worker visas, because this is -- there is a worker shortage in the United States, and there are workers, and in my view, we can put hundreds of millions more into law enforcement, but we're also going to need to look at the number of visas that we issue.

>> Michael Grant:
Are we playing semantic games, though? I mean, if you have a guest worker program, I think the president's concept is, all right, someone here illegally can apply for a guest worker permit, stay three years, renew that three years, haven't you in effect Granted them amnesty?

>> Janet Napolitano:
I'm not sure; this is why we need to see the actual details and the language of the proposal. I'm not sure that's how it works. I'm not sure he was talking about people already here illegally versus guest worker visas for those who want to come into the country. So there's a lot of unanswered questions. But I think the good thing about this is the president has now engaged. He gives a national speech with all the bells and whistles, at an air force base in Tucson, so he's at our border, he gets briefed on what needs to happen in Arizona. He can't retreat from this issue now. Congress can't retreat from it. They're going to have to take immigration up in a serious way.

>> Michael Grant:
Let's approach it from this standpoint. You're the governor of Arizona, you plan to work with the governor of Utah to try to formulate a consensus bipartisan program at the western -- that the western governors conference can support in the hope it cane will continue progress in Washington. Would a program such as what I just described, we're not certain if it's the one the president is proposing, but one that would allow people currently illegally in the united states to get a guest worker pass?

>> Janet Napolitano:
I would be skeptical of that without some other kind of sanction. A fine, plus an agreement to pay all taxes and make sure that -- a criminal background check is done. So I don't think simply saying you can now get a guest worker program, or a guest worker visa if you're already in the country illegally, I'm not sure there's -- I am not sure that's the president's proposal, and I'm not sure it's the best way to go. I think -- if I ran the world would I start with the McCain Kennedy bill. And --

>> Michael Grant:
It sounds to me like you think they're on the right track.

>> Janet Napolitano:
It's the most complete --

>> Michael Grant:
It involves some sort of fine?

>> Janet Napolitano:
It does, a substantial fine, several thousand dollars, and you have to pay your taxes, you have to show your -- you've got a clean criminal bill of health, and you get in the back of the line so you have to wait before you can actually apply for citizenship. That's not amnesty. That's a sanction, a fine, and getting in the back of the line. But there's in my view realistic, and I think we've had a lot of rhetoric on immigration in Arizona and in the country, but what we need is realism, we need to be tough but we need to be realistic at the same time.

>> Michael Grant:
Is it realistic, though? One of the things that senator Kyl gets criticized for, because he says you got to leave the country and reapply, and everybody says, that's nuts. Nobody's going to do that. Realistically if you've got substantial fines and sanctions, and those kinds of things, are people here who are many times undetectable, realistically going to walk into immigration and say, hey, I'd like to apply and here's my $5,000 --

>> Janet Napolitano:
If there's a procedure and they know what to do, I any a substantial number will, because the advantages of course of being a citizen are manifest. But, again, congress needs to have hearings. You've got the McCain bill, you've got Kyl's bill, you've got a bill that I guess JD has put a bill in the house, though I don't know if that's going to go anywhere.

>> Michael Grant:
There may a half dozen --

>> Janet Napolitano:
There's some other bills floating around. Congress, you got a job, you gotta fix the border. You gotta fix immigration. Have hearings. Explore the options. Take them all up and do it wholeisically so that we don't just get the law enforcement part, we get law enforcement, plus realistic immigration reform in a package.

>> Michael Grant:
Political reality check, though. I'm not going to liken it completely to a third rail, but it's a dangerous political issue for 2006. Do you see --

>> Janet Napolitano:
This is why the president's leadership is required. He doesn't have to run for election again, he's made immigration, he's said several times it is part of his platform. Our country is suffering from all kinds of ways because of our tardiness federally in taking up the issue of the border. He needs to engage Mexico; he needs to engage the presidents of countries in central and South America. There's a whole lot for this president to do. He can do it, he has a window of opportunity. It remains to be seen whether he goes through that window.

>> Michael Grant:
Do you think he's done enough with the president of Mexico to say, listen, you're just not signed on to this assignment, you need to do more rather than at times actively encouraging your citizens to move north?

>> Janet Napolitano:
Well, would I have liked to have seen more engagement between the president and president fox earlier. We're kind of there now and Mexico is in the midst of its own presidential election, but actually I will be meeting this week with -- in Mexico city, I'm going down there to talk to their basically secretary of state to say, we need both the state of Sonora and Arizona need the federal government of Mexico to engage just as we're asking Washington, C. to engage. That's the only way we'll make that Arizona-Sonora border more secure and safe for the communities there.

>> Michael Grant:
If you can't get that message across and the governor of Sonora can't get that message across, and apparently president bush can't do it, is there anything that gets that message across to Mexico city?

>> Janet Napolitano:
Well, I think you got to keep on going for it. I've been talking with Washington DC for three years about the need to protect the adds border. We're now starting to see the resources we've been promised for three years. We just can't give up. We've got to keep fighting to make sure that our states, our border states don't bear an unbear burdened, which we are right now, because our respective federal governments have not dealt with immigration in a realistic way.

>> Michael Grant:
Any other subjects loaded up for the Arizona Mexico commission meet something.

>> Janet Napolitano:
Oh, we have a lot of topics. We'll be talking about the tourism quarter, poor infrastructure, because while everybody is focused on immigration, let's also not lose sight of the fact we have a tremendous amount of trade that goes back and forth. We're getting -- our ports are not big enough to handle the traffic on either side. We want to talk with both federal governments about that. We'll be talking about some protocols on the environment, on homeland security, law enforcement, it will be a very active session.

>> Michael Grant:
A port of lines?

>> Janet Napolitano:
We should move to the flu discussion after a minute.

>> Michael Grant:
I have the same problem.

>> Janet Napolitano:
But, yes, in fact I'll be at the port, there is a proposal to dredge the port so that it could accept deep hulled ships which 8 would come around and not have to stop in long beach, come around and then transport perhaps by rail goods and -- through Arizona. So it would be a great trade quarter for us if we can get it done.

>> Michael Grant:
Let me move to some legislative issues. Today you called on the legislature to pass a more stringent pseudoephedrine bill.

>> Janet Napolitano:
How ironic. [laughter]

>> Michael Grant:
We're both headed for Circle-K after the show.

>> Janet Napolitano:
Here's the problem.

>> Michael Grant:
How is what they passed inadequate in your opinion?

>> Janet Napolitano:
It doesn't keep people from bulk buying Sudafed. And that's what they use to cook into meth. And every other state that has taken the subject up has adopted a much more stringent bill, along the lines of what attorney general terry Goddard proposed. And ours got, you know, some folks got in there and it got all bullocksed up in part son politics. This is the number one drug issue in our state. I don't know whether you saw the review report that came out this week, but one in five affordable deaths of children are now attributable to methamphetamine. This is a scourge. We have two sources. One is the home cooked stuff here, and that's what legislation could help, a lot of cities have acted in the legislatures vacuum. The other is meth coming over from Mexico. That's why we need more law enforcement on the border. We need to attack both of those sources of supply.

>> Michael Grant:
The pharmacists association, however, came out strongly against the legislation, saying that -- well, a variety of different reasons including but not limited to it was unfair to saddle the pharmacists with the ID verification law keeping another --

>> Janet Napolitano:
I say too bad, so sad. Every other state that's done this, Oklahoma, I'll give you an example, in Oklahoma they have really seen a reduction in home-cooked meth labs since they enacted a bill similar to what I would propose two years ago. You can really see the result. And you can do -- they've had excellent results. This is a public safety issue, and a public health issue.

>> Michael Grant:
OK. $750 million. I recall you and I sitting in this very table talking about I think about an $800 million deficit not so long ago.

>> Janet Napolitano:
It was three years ago, a $1 billion deficit. When I came into office, we had to fix a $300 million hole for the remaining months of that fiscal year and cope with a $1 billion deficit. So we've seen a substantial turnaround in the last three years. I think it's our responsibility to be very careful and not to make decisions now that when the economy cools off, and it will, because it's cyclical, we'll swipe back into a hole.

>> Michael Grant:
What's wrong with the argument that, ok, as Arizona citizens we need to pay for government, but we only need to pay for government, and if we're paying more, $750 million in this case, give it back.

>> Janet Napolitano:
I'm all in favor of tax cuts. Let's be honest. But before we do that, we have long-term debt, fiscal bridges that we use to get out of that billion-dollar hole. Let's pay off some of that debt. Let's keep investing, particularly in education, that's our long-term infrastructure that we're going to need for our rapidly growing population. And when we've taken care of those things, paid off our debts, let's put a little away for a rain aye day fund. So we have some buffer, a cushion. And then we can talk about tax cuts. So let's operate our budget like a business would, or a responsible family would, let's pay off our debts, let's invest in something we know we really need, education, let's put aside some for a rain aye day, now we can talk about a fax cut.

>> Michael Grant:
Should there be an increment, I'm not going to try to tie you to it, because you won't tie anyway, but whatever that increment -- you address those needs, you correct some of the borrowing, some of the budget gimmicks, other things you mentioned. Should there be some chunk, however, reserved for a tax cut of some form?

>> Janet Napolitano:
I think you have to look at the whole budget. I'm not going to commit myself, because we're still in the process of looking at what we need, what -- we got certain number of prison inmates, what's it going to cost to house them, to guard them, to feed them, we've got a certain number of kids in school, what's that going to cost? So let's hold off on any judgment on that, and I think any predictions on the tax side are premature that we lay out the whole budget in January, and everybody can take a shot.

>> Michael Grant:
Legislative session of course starts next month. One of the things I want to cycle back to the front end and we were talking about immigration, you freed up some emergency funding, about $1.5 million for some stepped-up, increased over time along the border --

>> Janet Napolitano:
For the border counties, correct.

>> Michael Grant:
You mentioned at that time that you would consider asking for a supplemental appropriation to perhaps continue that. What's your current thinking?

>> Janet Napolitano:
I'm not going to ask for a supplemental, but I think it's safe to say in my budget request for next year I'll be asking for border security moneys to help us keep us the local law enforcement efforts in. Where local law enforcement is not handling immigration cases per se, but the property crime, the violent crime, the drug crime associated with illegal immigration. They're taxed to the max. These are relatively small counties with small departments, anything we can do to help them on the criminal law side is very beneficial.

>> Michael Grant:
All right. Arizona governor Janet Napolitano, thanks very much for joining us.

>> Janet Napolitano:
Thank you.

>> Michael Grant:
Travel carefully south of the border.

>> Janet Napolitano:
I will.

>> Michael Grant:
Illegal immigration as we have been discussing is of course a hot topic, one of those trying to fix the problem is Arizona republican congressman Jeff Flake. Congressman Flake has joined force was senators john McCain and Ted Kennedy along with representatives Jim Kolbe of Arizona, Luis Gutierrez of the Illinois, and sponsoring, and immigration bill that includes a guest worker program. Earlier today producer Larry Lemmons talked to Flake about his bill.

>> Larry Lemmons:
The president is calling for a guest worker program, but is against amnesty. What's your reaction?

>> Jeff Flake:
We're against amnesty as well. Amnesty is an unconditional pardon for a breech of law. That would be like we did in 1986, when we said if you can prove you've been here five years you've got a shortcut to a green card. That's not what we're proposing, nor is the president. Ours involves if you're here illegally and you wish to stay under the guest worker program, you would have to pay a fine, and go to the back of the line. That's not amnesty. You have to keep in mind those who are saying anything less than enforcing the current law is an amnesty by definition they're saying they're supporting a round-up of everyone who is here illegally. And if you ask them, they'll say, no, that's not what we're proposing, but that is what the current law requires. So the word "amnesty" is thrown around a lot, but nobody really bothers to check what it means.

>> Larry Lemmons:
Would you go into more detail about the plan that you and representative Klobe and of course senators McCain and Kennedy are proposing? Specifically the temporary guest worker program.

>> Jeff Flake:
Specifically we do have border enforcement, also interior enforcement, particularly with the employer. But we also create a temporary worker program that would allow those who are here illegally. They've committed no other crime than having crossed the border illegal, criminals are not allowed to participate. If you have a criminal record. But if you are in a job and you wish to stay in the job, then you would pay $1,000 fine, and then you would have to go through the background checks that apply. And then you go to the back of the line if you are seeking legal permanent residency or eventually citizenship. This is not an automatic path to citizenship. It says that you can stay for a three-year period, and then renew that for another three years. Then after you've been here six years, if you wish to adjust your status, not to be a citizen, but to be a legal permanent resident, that's an interim step, then you would pay another $1,000 fine, you would pay any back taxes that accrue, and then you would have to have English knowledge and civics knowledge just like we require for citizenship. Now, we would move those requirements up just to have a green card, so it's an arduous road, it's a difficult road, but it does allow and recognize there are people after they've been here an additional six years that might want to adjust their status.

>> Larry Lemmons:
Because it is an arduous road, and I think there are 10 to 12 million illegal immigrants in the country right now, how do you entice them to become part of that program?

>> Jeff Flake:
Good point. Anybody who's living in the shadows right now, driving without a license, without a valid license, or insurance, would like to come out of the shadows. And we ought to want them to come out of the shadows. That's what makes our proposal I think more attractive than most. A lot of the proposals say we're not going to deal with those who are here illegally now, we'll leave them in the shadows and pretend they don't exist. That's more than amnesty than anything, that's awful. But ours is a carrot and a stick. The car on the is to -- carrot is to have a legal status to be here legally, and that's attractive, but the stick is on employers, because once this program is in place and once employers have the tools to ensure that the person they're hiring is who he or she says they are, then you enforce it on the employer, and ours calls for a $10,000 fine per occurrence if the employer then goes out and hires somebody that they know is an illegal.

>> Larry Lemmons:
Could you talk a little bit more about employer sanctions? Because again, in 1986 they had employer sanctions, and apparently they didn't have any teeth.

>> Jeff Flake:
The problem in 1986 is we had an amnesty, we said we're going to take care of those who are here illegally now. And then we don't need any more workers, we never will, I guess, was the assumption, or we can't make that political jump to a guest worker plan. So the very day that that sign was -- that law was signed into law, it was out of date, because we needed more workers. And that's why you have the illegal population that you have today, because no guest worker plan was put in place. And guess what? If we don't allow for additional guest workers, this one will be out of date as well. If you just deal with those who are here illegally and put them in a guest worker plan without allowing for additional guest workers to come, then you haven't solved the problem either. So you can't really enforce a law unless you have a reasonable law to enforce. I think we've learned that from prohibition, and example after example. And because we knew that we needed the workers and we do today, if we were to say, we're going to enforce the current law on employers, we're going to give you access to a database that will tell you if your employee database, if they're all here illegally. We know from other studies and other audits that perhaps as many as 5\% or as high as 5\% of the current work force in the United States is illegal. If you look in Arizona, it's probably much higher than that. And to tell employers, all right, we're going to enforce it, we don't have the political will to do that. It would be devastating to this economy that has less than 5\% unemployment, which is statistical employment, if you ask exists, to say we're going to remove the equivalent of the whole state of Ohio and take them out of the work force. It's simply not reasonable, and none of my colleagues who want an enforcement first or enforcement only approach think it is reasonable, because they're not even saying you got to deport everybody who's here. So it is reasonable to enforce it at the employer level if you have a program for those who are now illegally here to go into to continue to work. But if you don't, I would venture to say you'll have the same track record that we've had over the past decades where we haven't enforced the law.

>> Larry Lemmons:
They have the technology that employers can use to track social security numbers. Is that what you're talking about? And can you mandate that all employers have these?

>> Jeff Flake:
Yes. We have something called the basic pilot project. A couple years ago it was only available in seven states, now it's available nationwide and employers can check. The problem with mandating that across the board right now is it would turn up eight to 9 million illegals in the work force that there's no program for them to go into, no legal program. And then what do you do? It's been tried in pockets around the country, in the meat packing industry in Nebraska, and elsewhere, to actually enforce it and mandate the use of that, and the outcry from democrats, republicans alike was, stop, because you're shutting down industry. All the people don't want to admit it, but we have a need for foreign workers now, and in the future the need will even be greater, just given the demographics we have and the education levels. And so we're going to have a foreign work force and it would be far better to have it legal and regulated. Our national security demands it. We can't continue to have a system where you have 5\% of the work force that you don't even know who they are, if they're working under an assumed name or not. That's not a good situation. And to have a border that's so pourus the terrorists can come across it at whim.

>> Larry Lemmons:
What about money? I know you're not big on spending, but isn't it wise to put more money into border enforcement, the hiring of border agents specifically in Arizona?

>> Jeff Flake:
Well, you have to have a comprehensive approach. Yes, we need more border agents, and we'll have a bill in congress next week that actually deals with some of that. We need to expedited removal, we need to deal with the so-called OTM's who come --

>> Larry Lemmons:
Other than Mexicans.

>> Jeff Flake:
Other than Mexicans who come across the border and don't look to get away from the border patrol, they look for them. Because they know that once they reach them, they'll be booked and then taken to the bus station. And given a court date. That they never appear for.

>> Larry Lemmons:
What is it, something and release --

>> Jeff Flake:
Catch and release. And now we are changing that policy, finally. A lot of this stuff is outdated. But we need to do more than that. You have to have interior enforcement as well. You have to go at the employer level, and I think it's folly to say, all right, we're going to do one thing first and then do the other, we can spend five, six, eight years trying to build a fence or just dealing with border security, and then wake up and realize what we already know today, that nearly half of those who are here illegally didn't sneak across the border, they came on a legal visa and have overstayed. So even if you can fix it at the border, you haven't solved the whole problem.

>> Larry Lemmons:
Is a wall practical?

>> Jeff Flake:
You know, 2,000-mile wall, it's -- we have a border there that doesn't lends itself to a Berlin-style wall, because you have literally tens of thousands crossing the border each way every day. In the fields, in Yuma, or to shop in Nogales, it's not a border that lends itself to that kind of wall. But you could spend all that money and do all that, and then you have only solved half the problem. You still have those who come legally and overstay, and the only way to deal with them is to go with the work site.

>> Larry Lemmons:
Thank you, congressman, for speaking with us.

>> Jeff Flake:
Thank you. Appreciate it.

>> Michael Grant:
We'll be on future "horizons" or take a look at a transcript of tonight's show on at our website, www.azpbs.org. When you get to the home page, scroll down, click on the word "horizon." Thanks for being here this evening. I'm Michael Grant. Good night.

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