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August 22, 2013

Host: José Cárdenas

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

  |   Video
  • One year ago, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was implemented. Immigration attorney Regina Jefferies and Carmen Cornejo, with CADENA and the Arizona Dream Act Coalition discuss the successes, challenges, and results of the directive.
  • Regina Jefferies - Immigration Attorney
  • Carmen Cornejo - CADENA and The Arizona Dream Act Coalition
Category: Immigration   |   Keywords: dream act, DACA, immigration,

View Transcript
José Cárdenas: One year ago the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, was implemented. It's an initiative of the Obama administration. It does not provide permanent lawful status for applicants, but does give applicants a temporary suspension and authorization to work in the United States. Joining me now to talk about the impact the program has had on eligible young people is immigration attorney Regina Jeffries. Also is Carmen Cornejo with Cadena and the Arizona Dream Act Coalition. Thank you both for joining us once again on "Horizonte." It's good to have you both back to talk about basically the one-year anniversary of DACA. So let's start with an overview of what you have seen in the last year.

Carmen Cornejo: Yes, challenges and opportunities. I think DACA has provided a lot of peace of mind to the students, not to be subject to deportations anymore and also the work permit is a blessing. I can mention a lot of challenges. The drivers' license, they don't have the access to the driver's license which also becomes an I.D. issue and is preventing sometimes access for types of work.

José Cárdenas: The most recent assessments have been a little pessimistic. At least in the articles that have been in the paper recently suggesting that there's a lot of fanfare but really not much has changed. Do you disagree with that?

Carmen Cornejo: I disagree. It's reaching a lot of the potential the young persons have. The changes are not going to come like immediately. It's a process. The employees also need to understand the recommendations that are represented. They are not changing, radically speaking, their lives economically speaking, however, these processes are starting. We will see the effects, the positive effects of this initiative in some years.

José Cárdenas: Regina, what have you seen?

Regina Jeffries: I would echo a lot of what Carmen has said. That has continued the conversation for these young kids. It hasn't changed the economic opportunities for them. At least in Arizona some of the negative initiatives in the state regarding driver's licenses and placing other obstacles for people legally allowed to work but we also have seen some confusion about what the actual employment authorization document means.

José Cárdenas: Confusion amongst employers?

Regina Jeffries: Exactly. People not understanding that at least for the I-9 process, one of the things that someone can present is an employment authorization document from the Federal government and a social security card, which are two documents that dreamers under this plan or the deferred action recipients can actually get and are entitled to. And an employer cannot ask for additional documents on top of that.

José Cárdenas: What's your sense of the numbers nationally and locally in terms of those taking advantage of this status?

Regina Jeffries: I think I can speak on a national level. I think Carmen can give a better idea what's happening on an Arizona level. But I think that there have been over half a million applications for DACA on a national level. And I think as of right now there have been over 350,000 approvals. I can't give an exact number.

José Cárdenas: How does that stack up with what people were expecting when the program was first announced?

Regina Jeffries: It's less than what people were expecting, but I will say there's one thing that those numbers don't take into account and it's one thing I saw when talking to potential DACA applicants, is a lot of these kids are eligible for other types of immigration relief or applications that they may not have known about previously. And so I was actually able in a lot of cases to do other things, more permanent solutions for kids. And I know a lot of attorneys and other organizations like Chicanos por la Causa and community organizations were able to help kids out.

José Cárdenas: Carmen, both you and Regina have indicated the situation in Arizona may be such that people aren't as likely to go and seek this status. What's going on there?

Carmen Cornejo: Well, there's a lot of barriers for the young immigrants to access the process of DACA. Money is very important. $465 is a lot of money for poor families. Sometimes the families have one or two or three possible applicants. So it's a big barrier. There's also a lot of misinformation still about the process. I think the 19,000 that have already applied for DACA are the ones that have all the information in their hands.

José Cárdenas: 19,000 in Arizona?

Carmen Cornejo: In Arizona. They are the ones who were better prepared, that knew, they were expecting something, or like as part of them participating in the access for the process of administrative relief. They are better prepared to put forward the documentation. But we still have a lot of persons who have not all the information. There's some barriers of the GED situation. They cannot, they haven't completed the high school requirement and the GED. But DACA allows them to apply for a program of GED and access the process. But they are still trying to find the right place to access the GED instruction.

José Cárdenas: Are they being turned down by the officials in charge of that program or what's happening?

Carmen Cornejo: Well, the problem is the funding. If the states don't fund the GED program they, are not going to have access to it. Because the legislation here in Arizona. However, there's community organizations that offer instruction. They can access that. Sometimes it's expensive. I always recommend them to go to Rio Salado because that's not funded by the state. The only problem is that the instruction is online only. The one that they can access.

José Cárdenas: Regina, one of the other things that seems to be discouraging and has been discussed in some of articles recently the fact that while these people are able to get their employer authorization document, they can't get to work because they can't get driver's licenses. What's the status of the litigation involving that issue?

Regina Jeffries: The status of the litigation, the judge essentially refused to issue a preliminary injunction. But the case is still pending in Federal court. And so I think that we will have to kind of wait and see where things go with that. But it does seem that the judges indicated that the ACLU and the plaintiffs' side have a strong side on the litigation.

José Cárdenas: One of the issues that's come to light recently are groups from outside the state of Arizona that have come in here and staged some events that have been subject to criticism, most recently the group that sent some people across the border and tried to get them back into the United States. I know you have had some concerns about that.

Carmen Cornejo: Yes. This is the same group that argued civil disobedience events that was very confrontational a couple of years ago. They are going state by state with those kinds of events. I have a lot of concerns about that because they are tweaking with the concept of asylum, political asylum. And another consideration that to the lawyers, discretion and also we don't want the dreamers to be seen as a political activist so much. I think we need to have them in a very positive view as fighting for their education and fighting for the benefits that are entitled under the DACA program.

José Cárdenas: Based upon what you both said a lot of progress over the last year but a lot more to do, I take it?

Carmen Cornejo: A lot.

José Cárdenas: Thanks to both of you for joining this evening to talk about that.

Regina Jeffries: Thank you.

José Cárdenas: Appreciate it.

Arizona's Inaugural Poet Laureate

  |   Video
  • The Arizona Commission on the Arts in partnership with the Office of the Governor announced that celebrated poet and Arizona State University Regents' Professor Alberto Rios has been named the first Poet Laureate for Arizona. Professor Rios talks about the appointment.
  • Alberto Rios - Regents' Professor, Arizona State University
Category: Community   |   Keywords: arizona, appointment,

View Transcript
José Cárdenas: It's a special honor for an ASU professor. The Arizona Commission on the Arts in partnership with the office of the Governor announced that celebrated poet and Arizona State University Regents' professor Alberto Ríos has been named the first poet laureate for Arizona. He is the host of "Books & Company," a program where writers come on the show to discuss their work. Joining me now is Arizona's inaugural poet laureate Professor Alberto Ríos. You are not simply the inaugural poet laureate. You were the inaugural guest for the show that you now host.

Alberto Ríos: "Books & Company." That's true. That's quite a while back. I was the very first guest.

José Cárdenas: We have a picture, well, the picture we have, I don't think you were 12. Unless you had a beard when you were 12.

Alberto Ríos: Oh, my goodness.

José Cárdenas: It's been a long and storied career for you here in Arizona. Give us kind of a thumbnail sketch of your background and how you came to be the writer that you are.

Alberto Ríos: Well, you know, it's an Arizona story, not one you hear too much today. I was born in Nogales. My father was born on the border of Guatemala in Mexico. My mother was born in England and she was what I later learned was a war bride. They came to live in Nogales. It's a long and quite wonderful story. And it's hard to imagine my mother, very liked, very diminutive, living in that town.

José Cárdenas: With an English accent.

Alberto Ríos: She was the English nurse. She was a nurse. But she did. And she gave me something that I later came to see was very simple. It was perspective. I grew up with a lot of languages, a lot of cultures, really. There's border culture along with literal English culture and Mexican culture, American culture, and border culture. It helped me to see from the very beginning that there was always going to be more than one way to look at something.

José Cárdenas: And when you talk about the very beginning, you weren't talking about you at a real young age, not what you claim to be in that picture. But you started writing as a youngster.

Alberto Ríos: Yeah. I can remember when my first act of writing was recognizable to me. But it had nothing to do with putting pen to paper. It was second grade and I got in trouble. I had committed the egregious sin of daydreaming. My parents were called in. And --

José Cárdenas: That was a sin?

Alberto Ríos: That was a sin in second grade. We are all in trouble, I hope. But my parents were called in. And they were sitting in the little second grader chairs listening to the teacher explain. He's very good student and whatever but he daydreams. Class had great big windows, and I did. Well, my parents, I thought I was in a lot of trouble. And I thought maybe, no dinner for me, or I would get -- it was the days of the belt and all that sort of stuff. I didn't know what was in store for me as -- I was a second grader. And you have all of these kinds of reasoning that sounds silly now but as a second grader you only have second grader reasoning. I thought I was in trouble. My parents listened. They said he's been daydreaming. Yes. They took me home. I was alone in the back seat of the car. And in the 50's, those back seats were huge. My brother wasn't with me. I thought, I was being castigated. They take me home. We watch some TV. They had one of the first TVs in the neighborhood so everybody would come. And I thought I was going to be excluded from that. No "Laurel and Hardy" for me. They let me watch TV. We went to bed. I thought I was going to have bad dreams, whatever. My parents never raised it as an issue. And when I came to see later is, they were giving me one of the great gifts in my life. You figure it out. You decide. We know it's in you to understand that what you did was not wrong. They didn't have to tell me.

José Cárdenas: So it wasn't "Laurel and hardy" but you end up being the poet laureate. You are the first one for Arizona. What are your obligations?

Alberto Ríos: The obligations are pro forma. I have to give some readings, do some things around the state. Visit rural and urban communities, kind of do everything there is to do regarding poetry, which is impossible. But I love that challenge. It's a good challenge. And I also am supposed to come up with a major literary thing. Nobody can kind of come to grips with that. But I am ready for that. I don't want to impose what I think ought to be done. I think there are a lot of great ideas for what Arizona might do with language.

José Cárdenas: And you just had an experience recently that maybe could be the kind of thing that you might do. And something you didn't you did in south Phoenix.

Alberto Ríos: In the south Phoenix community library. I did some various things. I have got some poems in the shade trellises. The sun comes through and projects these poems on to the people or the ground. Along with that we did something that was pretty innovative. We did a community poem in which we advertised only within the community for people to send in some lines, some thoughts, some words, some language regarding having grown up in south Phoenix. No rules. I didn't know what we would get.

José Cárdenas: And then you put it all together?

Alberto Ríos: I put it all together in a poem. Had our day. The poem was put in a broadside. It's permanently on the wall of the library. And when we were reading it that day, I had not met any of the writers, didn't know who they were. They were there. I started to call them one by one to come up and stand behind me as I read this poem. First gentleman comes up, a woman comes up, third or fourth person in, I call the name. And it's like this 10-year-old kid. And I said, you wrote that? He said, yeah, I'm a writer. I said, excellent! Glad to meet you. We shook hands. It was like a Disney moment and it would seem to not get better than that. He stood behind me but the next name I called was his mother. And I thought, that's a community poem. And that's going to be forever there on that wall. Those two people from two generations, single family. It's a story worth telling separate from the poem.

José Cárdenas: And it's a great story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Congratulations again on the great honor and thanks for joining us tonight.

Alberto Ríos: It was a pleasure.

Phoenix City Council Races

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  • Arizona Republic Phoenix City Hall Reporter Dustin Gardiner talks about candidates and issues in the races for Phoenix City Council.
  • Dustin Gardiner - Phoenix City Hall Reporter, Arizona Republic
Category: Government   |   Keywords: phoenix, council, arizona,

View Transcript
José Cárdenas: Thank you for joining us. Four city Phoenix council seats are up for grabs on Tuesday's primary, districts 2, 4, 6, and 8. Districts 4 and 8 face particularly competitive races because the current council representatives are not running for reelection. Here is Dustin Gardner, Phoenix city hall reporter for the "Arizona Republic." Welcome to "Horizonte."

Dustin Gardner: Thanks for having me.

José Cárdenas: Particularly interesting council races this year in part, with the exception of district 2, because they're so competitive in many respects and nasty. District 2 is city council member Waring. Not much of an issue there. He is going to easily win that race.

Dustin Gardner: Not much competition there at all.

José Cárdenas: But much different in district 4. Let's talk about that one first. Who are the leading candidates?

Dustin Gardner: District 4 which is Tom Simplott's seat, he's decided not to run again after about 10 years on the council. Three leading candidates so far have been Justin Johnson, the son of former mayor Paul Johnson; Laura Pastor, a daughter of well-known Congressman Ed Pastor; and David Lujan, a former state legislator. This race has not been quite as contentious as some of the others but it's been competitive. There's a lot of money pouring in there, far more than anyone in that race has seen in more than a decade. Some of the big issues have been what people in the central city, especially historic neighborhoods, care about. Historic preservation, restoration of city services, and part of that has been a lot of discussion about the city's food tax. The candidates have a little bit different positions on that. Justin Johnson was the first to come out and push and say he would repeal it immediately. David Lujan said the same thing and Laura Pastor has been a little more skeptical. She's kind of wanted to wait and see what the impact might be to city services, whereas the other candidates have kind of taken the tact more that we never needed it, we can get rid of it now.

José Cárdenas: You are right. This race in this district has not been characterized by some of the ugliness some of the other districts are facing. And it's more a question of who's the best successor for Tom Simplott, including who might represent the gay communities of which he was a really prominent leader.

Dustin Gardner: Yeah. All the candidates have made a lot of efforts to certainly reach out to that community. I think they were all supportive of the nondiscrimination ordinance that Mayor Stanton and the city council passed last year. So because there's not a gay candidate who is among that leading group, it's, they have all sort of shared part of that pie, I think.

José Cárdenas: Now, although the Republicans endorsed David Lujan, my sense from discussions I have heard he's probably in third place as amongst those three.

Dustin Gardner: Now, we haven't seen any official polling, but that's sort of the sense you get from talking to political insiders and campaign workers. He has far less money. I think he's, as of the last filing early this summer, Justin Johnson had almost three times as much money as him. In terms of sheer competition, I think he's probably behind.

José Cárdenas: So are we expecting a runoff there between Pastor and Johnson?

Dustin Gardner: It's hard to imagine a scenario where there's not a runoff with that many candidates. There's seven candidates in that race. Three well-known, heavy hitters. I am pretty sure there's going to be a runoff heading into November.

José Cárdenas: Let's go to district 6. That really has been probably the ugliest campaign of the three that are really competitive. Tell us about that one.

Dustin Gardner: District 6 has been the focus of much of the contention, the most money by far, hands down, is being sent there. Incumbent Sal DiCiccio is facing a very spirited, nasty fight from Karlene Keogh-Parks, a well-known insurance executive and philanthropist. A lot of the focus on that race has been on the role of city unions. Sal has said that the election essentially is a referendum on his fiscal reforms. He hasn't gotten along with the unions in part because of his efforts to overhaul city pension systems, opposition to city pay raises for employees. On the other hand, Karlene, she's framed the race a little bit differently. In her eyes this is a matter of restoring civility and respect on the city council. She describes DiCiccio as a flame thrower, and he certainly has a reputation for being outspoken. We are seeing a lot of mail orders, a lot of contention and frankly probably one of the ugliest city council races we have seen in many years.

José Cárdenas: Now, you mentioned that DiCiccio has been targeted in part because of his opposition to raises for city employees.

Dustin Gardner: Right.

José Cárdenas: But he's been criticized for being supportive of the raise for the city manager.

Dustin Gardner: He did vote for the $78,000 raise David Cavazos got. DiCiccio's argument has been that that raise has paid off. The city manager has pushed for a lot of efficiency savings and tried to implement the fiscal reforms that DiCiccio has pushed. But that certainly has been --

José Cárdenas: And his decision to leave is not reflecting well on DiCiccio. At least in terms of the wisdom of that --

Dustin Gardner: Karlene has certainly seeds on that point. She's made it very clear he supported that raise and now that the city manager is leaving that certain controversy is not going away.

José Cárdenas: A lot of outside money in that race? Think it's going to have an impact?

Dustin Gardner: A lot of outside money. A lot of money is coming from unions around the state, public safety, firefighter unions that are, have very bad relationship with Sal DiCiccio. They view him as being unfriendly to public safety. We are seeing this through various independent expenditure groups. Probably the group that's put up the firefighters -- not firefighters, lobbyists -- that support Sal DiCiccio signs. A lot of mail orders, I am hearing people getting them almost every day are coming from that union money.

José Cárdenas: Let's go on to district 8, another very competitive race with some very prominent names. The most prominent name, at least in terms of his history in the city of Phoenix, is Pastor Warren Stewart.

Dustin Gardner: District 8 was Michael Johnson, the 12-year incumbent on the city council. He cannot run again due to term limits. It's another open seat. The three leading candidates have been Pastor Warren Stewart, who is well known for having led the fight to create a state-wide holiday honoring Martin Luther King Junior. And then you also have Kate Gallego, a business liaison and wife of state lawmaker Rubin Gallego. And we have Lawrence Robinson, a school board member and attorney. This race has been intensely competitive. Kate Gallego has raised the most money by far and is by many insiders perceived to be the front runner. She's done a lot more mail. Has just a lot bigger organization and presence. And in this race, a lot of focus has been on the kind of, the concern that the district has been too neglected, been overlooked by the city for a long time. There's a lot of poverty and concerns about vacant lots.

José Cárdenas: Isn't it somewhat a criticism of councilman Johnson?

Dustin Gardner: In the eyes of Lawrence Robinson and Kate Gallego it is. They have not named him but they have said the district has not gotten the representation it needs.

José Cárdenas: While you accurately described it as an open seat because there's no incumbent, it's also a seat that many people think should be held by an African-American.

Dustin Gardner: Many leaders of the African-American communities, ministers, business leaders, religious leaders, they feel this needs to be held by an African-American. That the history has been that since the district was created in the early 80's, it has always been represented by an African-American. A lot of people want to fight to preserve that. The problem has been that Pastor Warren Stewart's campaign has struggled, especially compared to Kate Gallego. He's brought in way less money. There's been a lot of internal issues with his campaign, people squabbling from the inside. So we will see how that shakes out.

José Cárdenas: We should note Lawrence Robinson is African-American.

Dustin Gardner: He is also African-American, that's right.

José Cárdenas: And he has the endorsement of "The Republic."

Dustin Gardner: Yes.

José Cárdenas: On that note we will end the interview. what do you expect to come out winner?

Dustin Gardner: I can't say but the leaders of those three, I think Kate Gallego can do very well and the other two we will see where they end up.

José Cárdenas: Dustin Gardner, thank you for joining us to talk about these very contentious, very exciting races.

Dustin Gardner: Yes.