Journalists’ Roundtable

More from this show

Local Arizona journalists discuss the week’s top news stories.

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. Joining me tonight are Amanda Crawford of Bloomberg News, Howard Fischer of "Capitol Media Services," and Jim Small of the "Arizona Capitol Times." Big immigration news coming out of the White House today. Amanda, let's get started with this. This is basically work permits for those who are Dream Act eligible. Correct?

Amanda Crawford: It's sort of administratively moving towards the Dream Act that didn't move through the Senate last year. It's turned very political very quickly. It was well timed by the President to correspond with the Supreme Court's impending decision on SB 1070, Arizona's immigration law. And to defuse the criticism he's gotten that he's done nothing about immigration and nothing to win over the Latino voters, who have become very key in this election against Mitt Romney. It's not like Mitt Romney is necessarily doing things to draw people who care about immigration reform and in that area.

Howard Fischer: I was talking to Raul Grijalva who said, look, if you look at a recent Hispanic survey of a Latino community, 53% disagree with the President's policies, and 41% said there were more deported under Obama than Bush. That got their attention. We're finally going to get some action and that should pay off in votes in November, assuming the Latinos come out and vote, which is a big if.

Ted Simons: I want to get more of the political aspects in just a second. As far as the nuts and bolts are concerned, you had to be brought here under the age of 16, and you can't be over 30 now?

Jim Small: You had to be in the country for five years, you have to have a high school diploma or GED, not on a terrorist no-fly list or anything like that. It is in a lot of ways like the Dream Act legislation was, designed to try to be aimed at a narrow segment of the population, not like what happens -- what happened in 1986 where they basically granted amnesty for just about everybody who was here.

Howard Fischer: What's crucial, and the key difference with this and the Dream Act, all it does is said we won't go after you. The President in his speech says, this isn't amnesty because that's the word the Republicans are throwing out. It doesn't grant you legal status or a path to citizenship. It is simply us exercising discretion, which we've already done in terms of going after the most high-profile cases. We're not going to go after you. Apply for this and get a two-year permission to stay. Then every two years you renew it, which gets of course to the question of -

Ted Simons: Yes.

Howard Fischer: Do you apply for it.

Ted Simons: Who is going to apply, A. And B, if you say my name is Ted, I came into the country, blah, blah, blah, do I want to apply with a group of folks who are going to come after, because you registered and say, get out.

Amanda Crawford: It's a stopgap measure between now and the election, really. I mean, the pressure will be on Obama if he gets reelected to do something through Congress on immigration reform. The best chance to do something that controversial is obviously right after your major election before the campaigning begins again. He missed that opportunity when he took office the first time. This is a chance to win over some voters who think there needs to be some progress on immigration reform, and a safe way to do it. When you look at the polls, even Americans and Arizonans who support SB-1070, our rather strict immigration law here, those voters overwhelmingly support the Dream Act. Americans don't want to see some kid who came here at two years old with his mother deported to a country he's never been to.

Ted Simons: Mitt Romney has been somewhat muted in his criticisms, but a lot of other folks from the right, Governor Jan Brewer, this is outrageous, these sorts of responses.

Jim Small: Absolutely. In Arizona especially, I think that may be the difference between the national stage and here. But in Arizona, immigration is still an important factor in the Republican primaries. We've got a Republican primary coming up in about 10 weeks. You've got a lot of people who don't want to appear soft on that issue at all. No amnesty or anything that has the whiff of amnesty or of giving anything other than deporting anybody is immediately blackballed.

Amanda Crawford: The Republicans are not going to come out and say anything nice about this. It didn't matter what the President said today, really, a Republican wasn't going to come forward and say, yeah, that's reasonable.

Howard Fischer: I don't think -- I don't even think after November, assuming the person who maintains control of the House -- look how many politicians on the Republican side have had to walk back. Jeff Flake, I never supported anything like this. John McCain, that wasn't my name on the sponsor of that bill with Ted Kennedy. It remains important within the GOP. It may be as you said where an election two or six years off for representatives and senators, it remains toxic. The question is, if you have perhaps 800,000 people being given legal permission to work, with unemployment rate in Arizona in excess of 8%, the illegals, the Obama administration is allowing are taking them.

Ted Simons: The Latino vote in Arizona and the Latino vote nationally. The conservative vote in the primaries, the vote in the November general. Give up the dynamics here with something like this coming through.

Amanda Crawford: You look at the people who are going to vote against Obama because of what he did today, they weren't going to vote for him anyway. I think that's still rather safe for Obama. The Republican primary, if it's a Republican supporting Obama right now, not in that kind of climate. I think immigration in general, immigration policy, is one of the areas with the stalemate we've come to politically, is really hurting the country. Everyone on every side agrees that policies need to be changed. We're in a perpetual campaign cycle where nothing can be done. You have to attack the person on other the side, because of the party name behind their name. That is really good example of that.

Howard Fischer: What's been really interesting is watching Mitt Romney on this. On one hand during the debate, when he was trying to prove he was further right than anybody else, he said, I would veto the Dream Act.
Colleagues caught up with him today. The problem with the President's plan is that it's not permanent. If I am elected president, I will work toward a permanent solution. Leaving aside the policies and that they are illegal. He's listening a little bit to Marco Rubio, recognizing there are some angles there.

Ted Simons: That's the point I was making earlier. Mitt Romney is not nearly as harsh on this as others. Once you get past the primary for Republicans you've got a general election to run now. There's a big Latino possibility for turnout.

Jim Small: There's always a possibility of a big Latino turnout and it's failed to materialize in the last decade or more.

Ted Simons: Does this change that?

Jim Small: I don't know, we'll find out. Latino groups have tried to make people register to vote. It's a matter of getting them to actually show up at the polls. Look at Richard Carmona, he is seen in a lot of ways as the way for getting Hispanics to show up for a statewide election. They haven't had a Hispanic statewide candidate for a long time.

Howard Fischer: If they didn't show up after 1070, we saw the marches, the signs, today we march, tomorrow we vote. Alfredo Gutierrez was out there saying, this time it's going happen, this time we're going to come out. Did you check the results of the last couple of elections? If the bill couldn't get them out, can the Dream Act?

Amanda Crawford: I'm not sure if many people look at Arizona and think it's in place even if the Latino turnout comes out. I think other states are considered more swing than Arizona like Nevada and Colorado, where the Latino vote could make an actual difference. Not that it couldn't make a difference here, I don't want to underplay that. I don't think we're the top when it comes to the swing state that's hoping to be won over. I do think there is no issue that has mobilized kind of across the board, people wanting immigration reform considering the Dream Act. Major Dream Act process, what a lot of people are saying is the logical part.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, how does it impact down-ticket votes in Arizona?

Amanda Crawford: I think that anything that gets people motivated to vote for Democrats, who weren't going to necessarily show up because they were disillusioned with the President, helps Richard Carmona. Then it'll help down ticket any congressional tickets, as well.

Howard Fischer: The other half of the shoe that may drop as earlier as Monday is SB-1070, and how does that affect it? You've got races like the race between Worsley and Pierce out in Mesa. Worsley is saying I'm the moderate and I'm going to work together. Depending on what the Court says, I think they are going to split the baby. They will probably get rid of the rest of it. How does this play with the voters? Do they want to revisit 1070?

Ted Simons: How does this play with 1070 in forces? What are we hearing regarding that?

Howard Fischer: This is where we go down the rabbit hole. You've got this question of if in fact you're getting a work permit from the federal government, does that make you here legally? The President says no, but you are getting a federal permit. When I talked to folks at Homeland Security, they said look, here's what's going to happen. Let's assume the Maricopa County sheriff's department pulls someone over illegally. ICE says you're under deferred preparation, let them go. I don't think it affected that way.

Amanda Crawford: This goes back to the voter, your state laws interrupt what we're going to do. The government has made a decision going forward to deal with eligible youth. The state law may be picking them up and arresting them. That comes back to the ability to enforce immigration policy. That might be part of the calculus here, we're going to see that happen:

Ted Simons: Before that went down, we had the governor saying I want to get that video back out there so you guys know what you're doing once the Supreme court sees that they're evaluating everything they do. If that were to occur, we want to get along.

Jim Small: Yeah, they may have to go back and rebuild that video. We talked to Lyle Man at the police officer standard training. He basically said I don't know what's going on. I can't tell you, you have to call the Governor's office. Really, it's just so fresh no one really knows what's happening. I think at some point the post will have to go through this and with this Supreme Court ruling.

Howard Fischer: And the Supreme Court can do one of two things in terms of issuing an order. They can immediately dissolve the injunction, assuming they allow some parts to take effect. Theoretically speaking, they can go out and enforce. Or they can do the procedural thing. That would take a couple of weeks which would give a little breathing room to figure out how this fits together.

Ted Simons: One thing for sure, the ACLU will be watching. They are saying don't you mess this up, we're ready to take to you court at the first sign of what they call rogue officers.

Howard Fischer: I love this rogue officers argument. Some policeman is going to listen to the news at noon and is going to say, I'm going to go out and find me an illegal. I think the officers know not to do that. As Amanda pointed out, there are four cases pending. Which case deals with the law as written. You still have the question, First Amendment rights, illegal search and seizure. You have the as-applied challenge, which is going to come. If we let you enforce the law, is it going to be done in a way that isn't discriminatory? This isn't the end of it.

Amanda Crawford: That's been the big question. When the average person thinks about the lawsuit, they think of issues of immigration rights groups lawsuit that's not this case. This decision by the Supreme Court will not say 1070 is ok because it's going to racial profile. If 1070 goes into effect and we have these questions about dream act eligible students who get to stay here illegally, being harassed by cops, that kind of helps the case it's racially profiling and could help to stop 1070 in a later suit.

Ted Simons: These cases now could affect cases down the road.

Howard Fischer: The executive director of the Arizona ACLU kind of hinted that if in fact the injunction is dissolved, at least part of it in this case, she may be back in court saying, excuse me, Mr. Boulton, we have evidence here and a dozen plaintiffs. If she's been slammed down by the Supreme Court, I'm not sure she's ready to jump back in that.

Ted Simons: We could have something from the Supreme Court as early as Monday. Let's keep things moving though, Jim, we had a congressional vote for congressional District 8 in this week down in Tucson. Surprised that Gabrielle Gifford's' former aide, surprised she won and won by the amount that she won.

Jim Small: I think if you went back 6 months ago, everyone would have said, whoever Gabrielle Giffords endorses is going to win the race, but about a month ago, there's some momentum on the Republican side, Jesse Kelly really had a -- behind minimum. I -- lo and behold the momentum kind of shifted back. When Gabrielle Giffords got engaged and started to make campaign events and doing mail and things like that. And low and behold Ron Barber does win, and wins convincingly. I think he won by about 9 points.

Howard Fischer: What's important, I think this election, versus the one that's going to be in November. The issue is did Gabbie have some right to choose who would fill out her term. Just her presence there made a difference, as Jim points out. We've got another Democrat, Matt Heinz, who says that's all very nice but we need a young policymaker there. It's going to be ugly on the Democratic side.

Ted Simons: On The Republican side, Kelly is invited and accepting the invitation not to run again but you've got an up and comer down there who will make some real noise.

Amanda Crawford: The first female comeback fighter pilot is pretty impressive, has a built-in background. What by some analysis was weak on domestic issues, I'm sure the Republican national groups will be starting to prime her, he'll become the candidate. A poll came out the day before the election that really called it straight up from public policy poling. They concluded from their poll, people were motivated to come out and vote it for the Democrats because they saw it as the Democrats' seat, come out and vote to replace Gabrielle Giffords. It's more Democratic than it is right now. That makes it hard for someone like Jesse Kelly, he was the farthest to the right. He was supported by the tea party but not where Martha McFally is. It makes her more of a contender going into the fall whether she's up against Ron Barber or Matt Hines.

Jim, all signs that Matt Hines will stay in this and get a primary for the democrats?

Jim Small: He's doubled down this week and says, look, I'm in it to win it. I'm here to give voters a choice. As Howie said, they went with Gabby's successor in the special election. He dropped out of that special election race exvoted for him and campaigned for him. He said voters deserve a choice in the fall and maybe we shouldn't let this guy get into the seat.

Howard Fischer: And of course Frank Antonori feeling the most stupid, I could frown at Congress but Jesse's going to win it so it's not a big deal. Here's Frank going Wednesday morning, what happened?

Ted Simons: A lot of folks are looking around wondering what's going on between the Goldwater Institute and Glendale. Sounds as though the Institute has a couple of lines of fire here. First is that the vote the City Council took wasn't even valid, correct?

Amanda Crawford: Right. The challenge that they are making to Glendale right now is very procedural. They are saying with all the documents that Glendale produced there were two key documents they didn't produce in the deadline needed and the public didn't have the opportunity to review them, very procedural argument. The next argument you will see them potentially make is this is back to that gift clause. That has been the clause in state law that has really skewered all these past deals for Glendale. Goldwater Institute, that's really the piece they have been arguing. A lot of things like city North, the government can't give a gift to a private entity. They see any kind of subsidy that goes to a sports team as a gift. When you look at this, the issue is that Glendale's giving a lease to -- they are going pay the Glendale -- pay the Coyotes to be there to the tune of $10 million to $20 million a year by operating and managing the arena they play in.

Ted Simons: Which apparently takes 15 million dollars a year to do.

Amanda Crawford: And the taxpayers paid for it, Glendale's on the hook for it. They are giving money to the team to manage it and that's raising the questions.

Howard Fischer: One of the issues that came up when the supreme court decided city North was -- they said looking forward, because they hadn't set clear guidance before. The question becomes the benefit. In the case of city North, we're talking about a parking garage the city was buying they couldn't even use. Glendale will make the argument that what we are getting back -- and you can use economists to say sales taxes, good will, whatever, certainly makes up for this. The cases that are real hard for a judge to look at and weigh this $15 million versus these sales tax revenues and this getting perhaps a Stanley Cup playoff in the Valley or whatever.

Ted Simons: And no bonding in this particular deal makes a difference as well, as far as the subsidy issue, as well. We've hit a hurdle that kind of slowed us down. We'll -- Jim, I gotta ask, why can't Russell Pearce find a good table at a Mexican restaurant?

Jim Small: It depends on certainly who you ask. The folks who were threatening protests of a fund-raiser he was supposed have yesterday are taking credit for it and saying, we stopped him from having a fund-raiser at Macayo's and another Mexican restaurant downtown, and stopped him from having it at a third location at central High School in the library. And Russell Pearce, his campaign and supporters are saying these places are scared off because these opponents were making threats, calling in bomb threats, threatening violence against the restaurant workers. You know, it's I think back to the old, you know, pro and anti-Russell Pearce thing we saw a year ago in the recall and it's here again.

Amanda Crawford: I understand it but Russell Pearce tried to have a fund-raiser at a Mexican restaurant. Russell Pearce. It's just not surprising -

Ted Simons: Well, he can do that if he wants to.

Amanda Crawford: I understand why it brought up the hackles of people who are opposed to his policies.

Howard Fischer: His point is, he has always said I am not anti-Latino, anti- Hispanic, I am anti-people violating the law. So the choice of food seems to be way off. The thing that bothered me more -

Amanda Crawford: Come on, it's sticking it to the protesters by doing that.

Howard Fischer: The thing that bothers me more that is some of the folks on the left -- I'll use the term loosely who are doing the protesting who are trying to block this, are the same who will scream when they are shouted down at something else, there's something very anti-First Amendment about this. Whatever you believe about political fund-raising or anything else, if you believe the answer to speech is more speech, it's not to cut off speech.

Amanda Crawford: They weren't, they were protesting, exercising their free speech to protest what they thought was a slap in the face to the Latino community for him to choose to have a fund-raiser in a Mexican restaurant after the recall election.

Howard Fischer: They were doing it for intimidating purposes. They were trying to intimidate.

Amanda Crawford: All politics is intimidation to some extent.

But you don't intimidate people; It's like, you know, having to cross the strike line. When it becomes more than just picketing and it's intimidation and harassment of people who would be going there, I think you've got a problem.

Ted Simons: Time out, we've got to I want to right there.

Howard Fischer: You're no fun at all!

Ted Simons: I'm going down to Oaxaca's tonight. Monday on "Arizona Horizon," we'll take a closer look at the new federal policy that allows certain undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to apply for water park authorization and have their deportation deferred. That's Monday at 7:00 on "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us, you have a great weekend.

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024
airs April 18

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates as part of ‘AZ Votes 2024’

Earth Day Challenge graphic with the Arizona PBS logo and an illustration of the earth

Help us meet the Earth Day Challenge!

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 12

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

The Capital building with text reading: Circle on Circle: Robert Lowell's D.C.
May 2

An evening with ‘Poetry in America’

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: