Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

December 17, 2007


Host: Ted Simons

Immigration Town Hall


  • Representative Steve Gallardo and Los Abogados attorney Daniel Ortega discuss the outcome of the immigration town hall where citizens offered their opinions about Mayor Phil Gordon’s decision to no longer support current police policy on checking immigration status.
Guests:
  • Steve Gallardo - State Representative
  • Daniel Ortega - Los Abogados, a Association of Hispanic attorneys
Category: Immigration

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Tonight on Horizon, an immigration town hall turns lively as protestors disrupt the proceedings. And a chat with former presidential candidate Steve Forbes on the current presidential campaign and the economy. That's all next on horizon.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Ted Simons:
Good evening and thanks for joining us tonight on Horizon. I'm Ted Simons. The immigration issue seems to be heating up on a daily basis. Last Thursday evening organizers put together a town hall to discuss concerns and potential impacts of a possible new direction in police procedure. Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon wants to change how the police deal with illegal immigrants. Larry Lemmons shows us the activity that captured a lot of attention in the South Mountain High School Auditorium.

[Overlapping speakers]

Audience Member:
Show me the papers. Show me the papers. Who are you? I don't care who you are. Show me who you are.

Larry Lemmons:
Tempers flared as illegal immigration protesters made their presence known at a town hall meeting called to discuss potential changes to a Phoenix Police procedure regarding immigration.

Mary Rose Wilcox:
Before I turn over the mike --

Larry Lemmons:
Disruption began at the outset of the town hall as organizer marry Rose Wilcox attempted to introduce the panel convened by Mayor Phil Gordon to review the police procedure. Protestors called for the pledge of allegiance.

Mary Rose Wilcox:
Oh, I'm sorry.

[Indiscernible yelling]

Mary Rose Wilcox:
Okay. I would ask that people who have spoken out, security go talk to them and remove them if necessary. Okay. I will introduce the panel. [Applause] [Overlapping speakers] [Jeering]

[Indiscernible yelling]

Mary Rose Wilcox:
Okay. Now everybody calm down. If we have any more outbursts you will be escorted out of this building. Okay. On behalf of the community we invited everybody. We welcome you. But you must behave in a manner that is one that we will accept for this forum.

Larry Lemmons:
The four members of the panel are former U.S. Attorneys Paul Charlton and José Rivera, former Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley and former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods. The panel has been given the task of developing a new policy to replace Operations Order 1.4 -- that policy prevents the phoenix police in most cases from asking a person's immigration status. It has also led to charges from anti-illegal immigrant groups that Phoenix has become a so-called sanctuary city that turns a blind eye to illegal immigration. Gordon wants the new policy to allow police to notify immigration and customs enforcement, or I.C.E., whenever a suspect's immigration status is in question. Gordon's change in policy has outraged some of the Hispanic community who feel it will lead to racial profiling.

Forum Speaker:
Think about it, it's very simple. If people are committing crimes, it doesn't matter if they're white, if they're brown, if they're black or green. It doesn't matter if they're legal or illegal. If they're committing crimes --

[Applause]

Forum Speaker:
If they're criminals, all of us in this room will agree on one thing. Criminals should be arrested.

Larry Lemmons:
Microphones were set up to allow comments from the audience, but many protestors chose to disrupt the meeting and were escorted from the auditorium. Prompting supporters in the audience to chant "Si se Puedes" a term popularized by Latino activist César Chavez, meaning "Yes, it can be done."

[Chanting]

Ted Simons:
Joining me now to talk about what happened at the town hall, one of the sponsors of the event, Representative Steve Gallardo of Phoenix, and representing Los Abogados, a Hispanic Association of Attorneys, Daniel Ortega. Gentlemen, thanks so much for joining us. Steve, we'll start with you. Your reaction to this town hall meeting.

Steve Gallardo:
It was refreshing. I mean, you had the Latino community for the first time be able to get together as a community, to be able to voice their opinion on this proposed rule. This is something that should have been done before any type of committee was even formed to be able to bring the community together and say, "What do you think of the possibility of changing it?" This was an opportunity for the Hispanic community to come together, make their voices loud and clear to the city hall, particularly the Mayor of Phoenix, that we are not going to stand for any type of rule change that's going to be detrimental to Latinos. So we made it very loud and clear to the City of Phoenix and also the Blue Ribbon Panel that was there that we do have some concerns on any type of proposed changes to rule 1.4.

Ted Simons:
Danny, did the town hall meeting accomplish that much?

Daniel Ortega:
Oh, absolutely. I fully agree with what Representative Gallardo had to say. You know, it's been a long time -- and I've been around a long time -- since we've had a meeting in our community that truly represented the wide interests of what our community is all about. And, I mean, there's people there that I hadn't seen in a long time. Plus there were a lot of people there that are new. and I think more than anything else, I think, number one, that the presentations that were made -- by the way, it was 2 1/2 hours, not the four minutes you just put on film right now -- were all very well-done, very well-prepared and articulate. Second, it really did appear as though the panel was listening. It appeared as though they were truly concerned and wanted to hear what we had to say about the impact of changing the order.

Ted Simons:
What concerns you most about the impact?

Daniel Ortega:
The thing that concerns me the most is public safety. Clearly when police officers have to use their scarce resources to enforce immigration law, it takes away from fighting crime. And when it takes away from fighting crime, our community suffers. Second, if you don't have the cooperation of a community -- in this case the Latino community, for fear of potential repercussions because of enforced immigration laws - then you don't have effective law enforcement because people are not reporting crimes, or worse, there's no witnesses to crime. So public safety, I think, are the key elements here.

Ted Simons:
Aside from public safety, Steve, if we had the four-member panel here, what would you want them to hear? What were your concerns?

Steve Gallardo:
Well, I think Danny just touched on one. One was the issue of public safety. Anytime you add another level of authority of responsibility to our local law enforcement whose primary responsibility is to patrol and make sure our neighborhoods are safe and make sure our streets are safe, you also have the issue of racial profiling, the issue how exactly do you implement such a rule and how do you have our local law enforcement be able to implement a new rule without engaging in racial profiling. And also a third is the whole issue of the cost to the taxpayers of the city of phoenix. I mean, this is actually a huge cost. Anytime you add an additional level of responsibility, there's going to be a cost. And who's going to pay for that cost? You have 3,000 law enforcement within the City of Phoenix who'd have to go through a federalized training, they'll have to take on additional responsibilities in terms of reporting, in terms of processing. All that costs money and time. And those are some of the unattended consequences when you start looking at possible rule changes.

Ted Simons:
But again, the mayor's office says the reason they're going this change of direction is to give an option, a choice, for police officers. They don't necessarily have to do x, y and z. But in a certain situation they have that option. What's wrong with that argument?

Steve Gallardo:
And they have that option now when a serious crime has been committed and when they're in the process of transporting a suspected criminal from the site to actual jail facility or to the police department. The problem is the fear. The fear that you put out into the community that will affect law enforcement from doing their number one responsibility, and that is patrolling our streets and working with community and solving crimes. That is the underlining problem. There's a lot of areas. But I don't think there's a problem with local law enforcement using I.C.E. in order to deport, because they have that authority now when a serious crime has been committed. The problem becomes, how much more authority do you give them in terms of causing other underlying problems.

Ted Simons:
Danny, rank and file police have kind of made it known they would like to have this option. they would be the ones, I would suspect, who would -- if there's a red flag saying public safety could be affected -- they would be the ones pushing the other direction. How do you quantify that?

Daniel Ortega:
Look. Let me deal with it this way. A recent survey that was just released about a week ago asked the Latino community what they thought about the idea of having law enforcement involved in immigration issues or asking for documents. 80\% -- 80\% of the Latino community says, "No way, we don't want the police involved." And the reason why is because we're afraid that we will be victims of racial profiling. The non-Hispanic, or those that don't look like us, or those that aren't a shade brown like mine, okay, they see it as an okay thing. Why? Because they're not going to be subject. They're not going to be subject to that. Remember, legally everybody's got constitutional rights. And we understand that. And I think the panel is going to try to do the right thing. But the bottom line is that those who don't look like us have a second protection, the color of their skin. We don't have that protection. And it's important for the rest of the community to work with us on what is clearly a fear of ours. You can deal with procedures. You can deal with a whole host of things that the police are proposing might work. But the bottom line is, at the end of the day, the only people who are affected are our community. And this community has to understand that.

Ted Simons:
Is there a disconnect between rank and file police officers on the beat and the community? If the officers think this might work and the community is saying, no, it's not?

Daniel Ortega:
Clearly there's a disconnect. And I think it's for political reasons. I mean, you have a whole new type of leadership that just came in to the police union who want to try something different. And it's always the result of the shooting that occurred most recently. I mean, we have to put it where it's at. The bottom line here is that if the order had been changed prior to that, it wouldn't have been any different. This guy was a low-base, despicable criminal. It had nothing to do with whether he was undocumented or not. This is a guy who was deported from this country and he came back. He's a despicable criminal because he murdered a police officer. The bottom line is you don't change the rule on account of one incident or two incidents or three when thousands upon thousands, hundreds of thousands of people are going to be affected by a policy that will lead to racial profiling.

Ted Simons:
Steve, why do you think the mayor is looking at these changes?

Steve Gallardo:
Well, for one reason, I think he has, for the longest time, has heard from a real loud vocal crowd. And these are folks that have for the long time has wanted anyone that does not look like them to be away from the city. I think it's now time for the Latino community, and those folks that believe that public safety should be a number one issue, to be very vocal. That's exactly what the forum did. The forum provided not only the Latino community but those folks that were also interested in the issue of racial profiling. We have Councilman Calvin Gere, former Councilman Calvin Gere, come make a presentation. So it's not just the Latino community that's very concerned about the issue of racial profiling. African American communities are concerned about the issue of racial profiling. We had a gentleman from the Equality Arizona come talk about the human rights aspect of it. So there's a lot of other segments of our society who are very concerned about this particular rule change. I think that's what the forum provided was a path for everyone to be able to have their thoughts and concerns.

Ted Simons:
Danny, what do you want to see this four-member panel do? I mean, how much of a change do you want to see? Obviously the mayor wants to see a change; the panel is going to recommend some changes. Is there a halfway, a quarter-way? Do you want to just leave it alone at that? What do you want to see?

Daniel Ortega:
I believe that the order that exists can work. I don't believe that it needs any changes. The problem is, don't change for change's sake. The bottom line is that at this point, the police do have the wherewithal to deal with the types of criminals that they want to apprehend. The bottom line is that anybody who is arrested and incarcerated, ok, is screened for documentation. They're screened for documentation. There's a clear line. If you're arrested and incarcerated, they have the right to ask you your legal status. And that should be enough. At which point do you take a simple traffic violation and have people be asked for their papers? At which point do you have a victim of a crime, sexual assault, be asked for their legal papers? I mean, where does this end? And the bottom line here is, our position is, let's make the order work in its present state.

Ted Simons:
30 seconds. Are you optimistic the panel is going to come back with recommendations you can live with?

Steve Gallardo:
Well, we'll have to wait to see. We're going to be watching the process very closely. We'll continue to work with the actual blue-ribbon committee. And whatever suggestion they put on the table we look forward to working with the mayor and council to see how they implement it.

Ted Simons:
Quickly, optimistic?

Daniel Ortega:
I'm very optimistic. I really think that they were listening. I don't know that they really understood where the Latino community stood until Thursday night. And I'm real confident that they're going to look at this very seriously.

Ted Simons:
Alright, gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us.

Ted Simons:
Steve Forbes is the Editor in Chief of Forbes magazine. He ran for president in 1996 and 2000. He won the Arizona primary in '96. Forbes famously promoted a flat tax to replace the income tax. He's currently involved with the Rudy Giuliani presidential campaign. He was in Phoenix recently as a keynote speaker for the Goldwater Institute. Larry Lemmons spoke with Forbes at the Phoenician.

Larry Lemmons:
Well, Steve Forbes, you're the Senior Policy Advisor and the National Co-Chair of the Rudy Giuliani campaign. How's that campaign going so far?

Steve Forbes:
The campaign is going well. I think there are two principal issues; one of course is national security. He's the one candidate who if elected I think will have the terrorists saying, "Uh, oh." And on the economy I think he knows that bold things have to be done. I was with him in New Hampshire the other day and he waved a small sheet of paper and said, "There's no reason why the American people shouldn't be able to fill out their tax returns on a single sheet of paper." Which was music to my ears. As mayor he got it on taxes. He cut taxes for the first time in anyone's memory. The tax burden in New York City went down on its citizens instead of going up. And even though the democrats controlled the city council 45-6, he got through a spending restraint, kept it below the rate of inflation, put in tax cuts and made the city solvent which was quite a revolution.

Larry Lemmons:
Since you went down that road, let's talk about tax cuts. Right now we have this tremendous budget deficit. And i know a lot of the presidential candidates are not bringing up tax cuts at the moment. Tax cuts seems to be a dirty word.

Steve Forbes:
Well, quite the opposite. It was the tax cuts of 2003 that made possible the economic growth we've had in recent years. In the last four years the growth of the American economy alone exceeds the entire size of the Chinese economy. Now, china has a faster growth rate, but it's coming off of a much smaller foundation, much smaller base. And if you will look at the revenues in Washington, the revenues are coming in. They're flooding in. The problem is they spend it and spend some more. It's a spending problem we have in Washington, not a revenue problem. And cutting taxes, properly done, increases the strength of the economy, and at a time when we're facing more overseas competition from India and China and elsewhere, Central and Eastern Europe and the like, I think we need to do everything we can to make ourselves more economically fit, get ourselves into shape. And Washington is not the answer on that one.

Larry Lemmons:
Do you believe in a balanced budget, then?

Steve Forbes:
I believe that we got to get off the backs of the American people. And if Washington can't control its spending appetite, don't punish the American people. Don't punish the entrepreneurs in this country who want to create businesses, create new jobs and make us more competitive. So I want to reduce that tax burden. And one thing that properly structured tax reductions do, I think, if people keep more their money, is they do more with it better than Washington does, and at the same time Washington gets more revenue. Revenues again in the last three years have exploded at an unprecedented rate, at a record rate. But if you spend everything you get and then spend some more, you got a spending problem, not an income problem.

Larry Lemmons:
Do you think it's a danger for countries like China and Japan to be buying up our debt?

Steve Forbes:
Well, I'm glad somebody wants our debt, given the way Washington runs its finances. But seriously, it's a large market for a U.S. debt. And if the Chinese want to buy it, fine. If they want to sell it, fine. But we do have the safest securities in the world. And whenever there's a crisis, right now we have this crisis with the sub prime mortgages, where do people go? Treasuries. So I don't worry about that.

Larry Lemmons:
Well, I had read in another article you'd done you were saying the sub prime mortgage problem isn't as big a problem as the weakening dollar.

Steve Forbes:
Well, the dollar is weak because our central bank, the Federal Reserve, is printing too many dollars. We did that in the 1970's and got inflation. It's the equivalent to flooding the engine of a car. You can have a fine automobile. But if you pump in too much fuel you're going to have problems. And that's what the Federal Reserve has done, pumped out too much money so oil prices went up, oil commodity prices went up, copper went up, shipping rates went up, steel went up. And then when you have too much money around, people want to put it to work. And so lenders got lax on their lending standards. And so housing, which was already in a boom, went on steroids. And so we got a mess on that. So weakening the dollar, printing too many dollars, they have a theory in Washington that's the way to make you strong. But if it was, a country like Argentina would be a global economic power and it isn't.

Larry Lemmons:
So are you happy with Ben Bernanke as the Federal Reserve chairman?

Steve Forbes:
Well, Ben Bernanke inherited a bad situation from Allen Greenspan. But unfortunately Mr. Bernanke didn't realize what a bad situation it was. I'm not sure he quite realizes what's going on today. So I give him an incomplete. I'm a generous person. But in the last few years, Allen Greenspan, even though he went out with rose petals at his feet, in the last few years I think he did a very poor job and we're facing the consequences of it.

Larry Lemmons:
Running for president, one of the major platforms that you were known for is the flat tax. Are you still promoting that? Is that still viable? And are there indications that the Giuliani campaign might be adopting some sort of form of that?

Steve Forbes:
I still firmly believe in the flat tax, single rate, generous exemption for adults and for kids. The latest proposal I had which I wrote in my book "Flat Tax Revolution, Using a Post Card to Abolish the I.R.S." was that a family of four would pay no federal income tax on their first $46,000 of income. And they'd pay only 17 cents on the dollars above that. It would be no tax on your savings, no death taxes. You should be allowed to leave the world unmolested by the I.R.S., I think, and on the business side reduce the business tax from 35 to 17\% and allow people to expense their capital expenses. If you build a factory or buy a piece of machinery you should expense that for tax purposes. And if you have a loss you carry it forward against your future profits. If we'd do that we'd really see this economy take off. You would see all the gloom about the future quickly dispelled. And this is not theory. 18 countries in recent years have adopted the flat tax in one form or another. And it's worked everywhere. It's worked even in Russia. So the thing, the idea is a sound one. Low rates, simplicity, exemptions for people so they can raise their kids. And otherwise get out of their way. And because people worry about, "Oh am i going to lose this deduction or that deduction?" the way you do it is give people a choice. In other words, if we have the new system, new flat tax, you can go with the flat tax or if you wish you can stay with the old complicated system. You make the choice. You see which one is better. I think the flat tax people would quickly see is the best way to go. And that's the way we can keep this country ahead of others in terms of innovation. And we got to do that, because others are striving to catch up to us.

Larry Lemmons:
Well, you brought up the death tax. Of course it's also known as the estate tax. And other wealthy men such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates say they don't mind the estate tax because on the one hand it promotes charitable giving, and on the other hand it doesn't create some sort of aristocracy.

Steve Forbes:
For first of all, on charitable giving, surveys have shown, experience has shown, experience has demonstrated that people give when they have the money to give. They don't need to be bribed by the tax code to do it. Because the tax code is so complicated, you got to take factor of it if you want to make a gift. But even before we had the tax code, even before we had the income tax, Americans were known, and history shows, gave more than any other people around the world. And even in the 1980's when tax rates were cut, the income tax -- top income tax rate -- was cut from 70\% down to 28\%, a lot of charitable institutions thought, "Oh, well, people won't give because the rates are so low." Well, they gave, not only did the rate of growth of giving go up, the amount went up. It worked. When people have more, they give more. They don't need the I.R.S. to push them to do it. Most people do it. And in terms of fear of an aristocracy, the way you end up perversely preserving wealth, in these families, is if you have a high death tax, they hire a bunch of smart accountants and lawyers, set up trusts so the kids can't get their hands on it, professionals manage it and get some income and a little bit of principal, but it's kept out of their hands. And I think experience again shows that when people get money, they suddenly discover they have unmet needs and it gets circulated pretty quickly. That's what happened when the Rockefeller family when they finally broke those trusts up. You look at the Forbes 400 - 25 years ago was 400 richest people in the country. Tons of people, from the DuPont family, the Rockefeller family. Today? Zero DuPonts and only one Rockefeller.

Larry Lemmons:
Well, in 1996, when you were running for president, you actually won the Arizona primary --

Steve Forbes:
It's why I don't mind coming back.

Larry Lemmons:
-- and I suspect it's because of your tax policy. Arizona has traditionally been a very anti-tax kind of state.

Steve Forbes:
I think one of the reasons Arizona is doing well, aside from the climate, is California. California's become very tax addicted, very anti-business. And as a result, you have a lot of refugees from California. It's also benefited Nevada, Oregon and other neighboring states. Utah, Colorado. But Arizona certainly has been a beneficiary. So why throw that away? I think the Goldwater Institute was very good in one of their campaigns was having a 10\% income tax cut. Do more of it. And then Arizona will prosper. That's what you want, a prosperous state.

Larry Lemmons:
Steve Forbes, thanks so much for talking to Horizon.

Steve Forbes:
Thank you.

Announcer:
Challenges for Governor Janet Napolitano regarding the state budget continue to grow. The budget deficit could reach $1 billion. The governor also approves giving benefits to domestic partners. And she inks a deal with Homeland Security on a so-called three in one license. Hear from the Governor on those topics and more Tuesday at 7:00 on Horizon.

Ted Simons:
Wednesday, we'll look at the potential impact of the new employer sanctions law that will go into effect in January. Thursday we'll preview the Phoenix Metropolitan Opera's new production of La Boehme. And of course, Friday, join us for the journalists' Roundtable. That's it for now. I'm Ted Simons. You have a great evening.


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