Ted Simons: A bipartisan group of business and community leaders has come up with a platform for federal immigration reform. The "Real Arizona Coalition" reached consensus on what it calls the S.A.N.E. solution to federal immigration reform. Here to talk about the platform and representing the "Real Arizona Coalition" is Republican state senator elect Bob Worsley, and Valley attorney Dan Ortega, the immediate past chairman of the National Council of La Raza. Thank you for being here.
Dan Ortega: Good to be here.
Ted Simons: This group is pushing this idea at this time. Why?
Bob Worsley: I believe it's the right time. We have seen a movement and an impact from the Latino voters in the Republican election for President here last -- this last month. And I think almost all the experts are looking back on it and saying, the Republican Party has to have a relationship that's improved with the Latino community.
Ted Simons: Was the election the impetus behind getting this --
Dan Ortega: It provided some motivation, I agree, but I think you've got to look at this issue historically. We tried this in 2007 under President Bush, under a Republican administration,with bipartisan senators making the proposal. So we look back then, and we knew we should have done something. Five years went by and nothing was done and we need to do something. Once again, when President Obama was elected, he promised that he would deliver immigration reform, and it didn't happen. I think the presidential election was the final straw that broke the camel's back, because it was said, and many times, that the reason why there isn't any immigration reform was because Republicans primarily in the House would not allow that kind of legislation to go through. So with the election in November, and the victory by President Obama, and the numbers of Latinos that came out to vote expressing their views on the issue, Republicans I think began to look at this issue much more seriously.
Ted Simons: Is that how you see it, as well? The Republican Party has had an interesting relationship with immigration reform, especially in Arizona. Talk about that dynamic, and why Arizona leaders are now saying we need to look at this again.
Bob Worsley: I think there has been movement leading up to this. My election in Mesa was proof. I basically used this same platform on immigration reform as my platform. Bill Montgomery and I spoke frequently. We refined the ideas as this group was also refining their idea to bring out this week. We were able to win in a Republican primary, in a very conservative district of Mesa. So we saw this movement starting to occur, but it did not happen on a national GOP platform in earnest until I think this election last month.
Ted Simons: Regarding the platform, I notice, respecting and acknowledging contributions of those here, those undocumented that are here, understanding how business relies on undocumented workers, and a rational pragmatic immigration policy needed for commercial and labor interests. These are ideas again, as Danny mentioned, these have been floating around a while. Why would Republicans now decide we need to take a second look at this?
Bob Worsley: Well, I think that we found that in state enforcement only legislation, it did not solve the problem. And that the rest of the issues that were left on the table that need to be dealt with in Washington, that they need to be addressed now or this won't come together. We'll continue to have, I would say, tension between the Hispanic community and Republican lawmakers, and it's just time to move on and get with this program. Otherwise I think Arizona will be purely a Democratic state to count on in one or two elections.
Dan Ortega: I think from a Latino perspective on this issue, the numbers are there for the future, for all to see. 50% of all the children registered in first grade now are Latinos. It seems to me that it behooves all parties to take notice of this surge in the population. From a political standpoint, you can't be beating up on immigrants through enforcement only and not expect the Latino community to react. On the other hand, on the other hand, the federal government has absolutely failed to do what it's supposed to do. So the states have taken it upon themselves to try to deal with the issue. Not necessarily that I agree, but the bottom line is this is the failure of the federal government in dealing with this issue.
Ted Simons: The acronym S.A. N.E., let's start with the S, which is securing the border. I know the question from memory now. What is a secure border? How do we know? Define it for us.
Bob Worsley: It is defined in border patrol terms. They look at the Yuma sector as being under operational control. Which means that more than 90% of the people that cross are interdicted. Yuma is under control, we need to get Tucson sector under control, which is only 20 to 50% under operational control. That's where the time and effort needs to be spent. We are doing it in Yuma, we need now to do it for the rest of the border.
Ted Simons:Can you do that for the rest of the Arizona border? Is that viable?
Dan Ortega: Absolutely, it's viable but it comes through a comprehensive solution. You can't just do it through enforcement. You have to give people avenues to come over legally or we will continue to have a problem with that. I don't think that enforcement to the Latino community is as big of an issue as it used to be. It's there and it's going stay. If things don't come to 100% in Tucson, it'll continue to escalate. Enforcement is only part of the equation. The second part is the accountability.
Ted Simons: That's the A in S.A.N.E.
Dan Ortega: I think that's what we're needing to deal with. To determine how many people are in this country unlawfully. 50% of the people here unlawfully came win a Visa, they just overstayed. The other 50% came in another way. We need to know who they are, where they work, and bring them out of the shadows.
Ted Simons: How do you bring folks out of the shadows? I think we'd all understand, they are not all that excited about coming out of the shadows.
Dan Ortega: If you give them the opportunity to live free, which is with a document that says that they are here legally, you're going see them come out. Look at what happened most recently with the President's executive order for dreamers, allowing a two-year reprieve from deportation. I'm not talking any visa. They came, they applied. They came and lined up.
Ted Simons: So we have an A. Are these hard, firm metrics or do we know when it we see it, when everyone's been accounted for and when the border is secure?
Bob Worsley: I don't think we know how many people are here. But I think we give folks a period of time to come forward a time, a date certain. After that point in time the door closes. And at that point SB 1070 and other laws that stand on the books would allow law enforcement at any level to detain and deport folks that did not come forward. I want to say one thing on coming forward. I've been a pastor for eight years in a Hispanic congregation. The reason I got in this race was I felt the Republican Party in my area was not adequately addressing this with compassion and humanity. I'm telling you, the people I know that do not have documents want to come forward. They want a process. There is not a process today for them to come to this country, if they have low skills, from Central America. There is not a process to come any other way, so they came illegally. They are trying to work and trying to be part of our society. Today they have no way to do it.
Ted Simons: Okay. The N of S.A.N.E. is necessary beaurocratic reforms.
Dan Ortega: We have basically a bottleneck, the fact that people can't immigrate into this country, the long wait. We not only have to create a system for allowing people to come in, allowing people who are here to adjust their status, but also most importantly is to make the system run more smoothly.
Ted Simons: Agree?
Bob Worsley: Yes. This is 1952's system that we're running on. And since September 11th, when those 19 terrorists somehow made their way into our country, I think we've been looking at this like a deer in the headlights, not sure what to do. It's time to calm down and face the fact that we need to update a 1952 system with current technology, where this can be done in a matter of months, not a matter of years.
Ted Simons: And the last letter of S.A.N.E. is E, and that stands for engaging all levels of local and federal and state, again. Things have calmed down a little bit but it's going to gear up again. Are you going to be able to pull this off?
Bob Worsley: We think so. I think the time has come when people are reasonable and rational and ready to deal with this. There will be fringes, people that will never see it our way. this group coming together, Danny and Bob Worsley and Bill Montgomery being in the same room and agreeing on the words in this document, is evidence politically that we can come to the middle and make this happen.
Dan Ortega: Yeah. And clearly if you have a reform, the kind that we're thinking about, there's going to be enforcement. Clearly all levels of government have to be involved in that. You also are going to have to service the people that you are going to allow to come in, and you have to get all levels of government, as well as nonprofits, community organizations.
Ted Simons: Last question. Some will say this is mostly an attempt to soften Arizona's image with regards to immigration. We were hurt with tourist situations, boycotts and these sorts of things. There's not necessarily a heartfelt, we need to get this done because it's the right thing to do, but because we have a black eye on this.
Bob Worsley: I would say that SB 1070 was a cry for help. We were drowning. We have 50% of drug traffic and all human trafficking in the United States coming through Maricopa County. Bill Montgomery is on this task force because he realizes SB 1070 didn't stop that. State enforcement is not the solution. We have to get everything dealt with or this problem will not go away. And the citizens of this state will suffer disproportionately to the rest of the United States.
Ted Simons: And last question for you. The idea this is political expediency more than a heartfelt movement towards doing things right, is that valid?
Dan Ortega: I think the people who are involved in this process and are proposing this, are doing do it sincerely. Keeping in mind a whole bunch of factors, including the human dignity and core values that we have as a country and as a state. The politics and all those things that are important to all Arizonans.
Ted Simons: Good conversation. Good having you here. Thank you for joining us, we appreciate having you here.
Dan Ortega: Thank you, Ted.