The PBS show “Independent Lens” has produced a film titled “The State of Arizona,” which takes a look at the controversy of Senate Bill 1070 in Arizona from all sides. Hear from those who lived through the SB1070 roller coaster ride as they reflect on the nearly four years that have passed since the bill was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. State Senator Steve Gallardo, Republican Representative John Kavanagh and pollster Bruce Merrill discuss SB1070 and how it impacted our state.
Ted Simons: It's been almost four years since SB-1070 set off a national firearm over illegal immigration. It is the focus of the independent lens, which looks at the issue from all sides. We hear now from those who lived through the SB-1070 controversy. Joining us is democratic state Senator Steve Gallardo, and Republican representative John Kavanagh, and poller Bruce Merrill. Thank you very much for joining us, and we're on here at 5:30 and again at 10, so we're sandwiched around the program. SB-1070, how much is Arizona still defined by this?
Steve Gallardo: A lot. A lot. You look at what is still remaining in terms of SB-1070. The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a portion of it, but the one issue that drives this debate is the section 2-b, and that is the, show me your paper, portion of SB-1070. I think that that's the, the one portion of, of SB-1070 that we would like to see gone. And I think that it's one of the worst parts of legislation passed by the Arizona State legislature, and it has cast a black cloud over the State of Arizona and will take us forever to, to get out from underneath. It has hurt Arizona's reputation, and it's something that should be, should be repealed, and if it's not, I can tell you right now, eventually it will be found unconstitutional, under the 4th and 5th amendment, and you will see the U.S. Supreme Court strike the rest of it down.
Ted Simons: Four years later, are we still -- obviously, the arguments are there and the court cases continue but are we defined in many ways by SB-1070?
John Kavanagh: Well, I think so. The fact that we refer to it by the bill number, as opposed to its name, shows the monumental effect it had on the U.S. But, by the way, I take issue with most of it being found unconstitutional. There are actually 12 segments of SB-1070, seven of them were found constitutional, and three of them not constitutional, and those were like wishes about forcing Federal law, and two are still up in the air. And the, the so-called police questioning one, which was the heart and soul, and the sanctuary city ban, those were found to be constitutional. So, overall, it fared quite well.
Ted Simons: I think the criticism would be the meat of the bill still is not in place, and is still a question mark.
John Kavanagh: The meat of the bill was, the meat of the bill was the section which had police asking people if they had suspicion about their status and the ban on sanctuary bills, and both of those are in effect.
Ted Simons: Do you agree with that?
Steve Gallardo: Well, there is portions of SB-1070 that the Supreme Court did, did go ahead and let it go into effect. Those were not concerned with, when you start cleaning up language, we're not concerned with that, what we are concerned with is section 2-b. That's where the Supreme Court said come back and prove to us that this is racially profiling, and that we are detaining people, that is in violation of the section of the constitution, and show us where, where it is unconstitutional. Come back and, and indicate, and that's what is happening right now.
John Kavanagh: And they allowed it to continue because they could not have a facial challenge, and it's very hard to prove that there was a conspiracy of racism by the legislature. SB-1070 is the law --
Steve Gallardo: And, and I can tell you right now, eventually, it is on life support, section 2-b is on life support, it's only a matter of time before the Supreme Court says it's a violation of the 14th amendment.
Ted Simons: And now, it's either on life support, or it's alive and well. That's just here at the table and here in the state. In general, in America, around the world, is Arizona defined by SB-1070?
Bruce Merrill: I think that it is. It's hard to separate, however, just, just the bill by itself without talking about Joe Arpaio. I mean, when you go around the country, people really think first of Joe Arpaio and the enforcement provisions, and what's happened with the Justice Department. So, I think that, that, that there is no question that people know about Arizona, in terms of the bill, and I think that, that unfortunately, they tend to see it in a very negative light here in Arizona, that we're, we're a very harsh state, that we're, we discriminate against people unfairly and as I say, it's hard to separate SB-1070 without talking about Joe Arpaio.
Ted Simons: Has that image changed over the years? Was it like that initially and now four years later, is it easy?
Bruce Merrill: No, you know, I think that, that it's about the same. It depends on what's happening in the media. I mean, it's there. But, when the media really covers it, people get more excited about it. It's kind of like putting heat underneath boiling water.
John Kavanagh: I don't think it's a bad thing that we're defining it that way. At the time, the polling showed that, that the support was in the 60% level, and the opposition was in the 30s, and I just googled it today, and there was a, the Phoenix Business Journal reported a poll that, that was done in 2010, June 2012, rather, not too long ago, and 52% of the people said that they still like SB-1070, and 11% said that we should have a tougher law, so again, you see the two-thirds for and one-third against, so, if that defines us, the country loves us because this is a wildly popular bill.
Ted Simons: Great thing for Arizona. You agree?
Steve Gallardo: Not at all. The fact is, two years ago, there were business leaders that came together, signed a letter to the state legislature, and asking us to stop this attack or this, this is to, to stop the immigration of, of legislation there at the capitol because it was hurting the image of Arizona and business and tourism. We continue to suffer. Who is going to want to move their business to the State of Arizona? Knowing that we had this cloud of controversy? So, does it hurt the State of Arizona and our image? You bet. And I think that as long as we continue to try to push this type of legislation, it's going to continue to hurt us. You have 60 business leaders that agree.
Ted Simons: Are you saying no bad effects on business? No bad effects on tourism?
John Kavanagh: No, what I'm saying is, that it was wildly popular with the public, it is still wildly popular, and my job title as, is representative so I have to represent, and I agree, I agree with the law, also, but beyond that, who opposed SB-1070? You had some liberal media people, especially people in the entertainment industry, and you had a number of liberal academics, and especially with some of their, the associations which refused to come here. And although, certain conventions didn't come or plan to come here in the first place, and you did have some business leaders who were worried. We did lose a certain amount of tourist business, I don't deny that, but a lot of that was because of the opponents of SB-1070. In that one week between when we passed it, and when the Governor signed it, there was a full court press, especially by the Arizona Republic but other opponents, which distorted the bill, which lied about it, and said, it allowed for the swooping up of people because they were Hispanic, the whole country believed it because the legitimate newspapers were reporting this, and that's what turned people off. Although, a quick point. Even when people thought it was a license to racially profile, which is not, it was still polling in the 60% range.
Ted Simons: Wildly popular here, and popular around the country. Agree?
Bruce Merrill: No. John is right, it's up to two years ago, it was about 60-40 in favor of the bill. And but again, it's, in the eyes. Average voter out there, it's hard to separate this out from the border issue and for what to do with people that are in the country illegally, and I can tell you this from my own polling, that, that people in Arizona really distinguish between those two issues. 85% of the people in Arizona believe that we should have a stronger border presence. And to prevent illegal immigration coming across. But the interesting thing, particularly with the censure of John McCain this last week, two out of every three Arizonans favor John McCain's earned path to citizenship. In two out of every three Arizonans support giving the young people that were brought here illegally, a path, immediately to citizenship.
Ted Simons: With that in mind, do you see, um, opinions of SB-1070 over the past four years changing?
Steve Gallardo: Yes, well, first of all, I think when you start talking about, about Mr. Kavanagh's polling, I think you are looking at frustration. A vast majority of people wanted something done and wanted Congress to get off their hineys and do something, and I think you are seeing it now. You are seeing Senator John McCain and Senator Flake being part of this gang of 8, moving comprehensive immigration reform. And the vast majority, including myself, want Congress to do something. That's what you are seeing in the polling. They want Congress to resolve this immigration issue and not allow the state to continue to push legislation that, that continues to divide the state and continues to, to polarize the capital and continues to put a black cloud in the State of Arizona. We don't need SB-1070, were he need Congress to do their job.
John Kavanagh: Two points, I'm not prepared to dismiss polls that very explicitly say, do you like SB-1070, and there is wild approval for it as being misguided or confused. I don't think that that's true. But, beyond that, you know, this is talk that the ground swell of support for immigration reform, when you had a democratic Congress, House and Senate, and a democratic President, they could not pass immigration reform because once you bring it to the edge, the people realize what's happening, and they revolt against this type of amnesty. So, I don't think that it's as popular and I think that, that -- I don't think that the reform is not popular and I think that SB-1070 still is.
Ted Simons: And the Senate has a plan right now. It is going nowhere in the house. So, obviously, something is happening on Capitol Hill.
John Kavanagh: Well, there's always nibbling around the edges but when it gets close and the grassroots say see what's going on, they start making calls and then come back off. They have always done it.
Bruce Merrill: I would caution us to look at -- there is often a difference between the average guy out there. It's very complex. They don't understand the details. There is often a difference between the elected officials, who tend to get elected in the primaries, and intend to have stronger, more polarized views on this than the average guy out there. And I can tell you, there is a big difference in Arizona on that, among the average person, compared with the people in the legislature.
Ted Simons: Let's go around the table here, how will historians look back, 50 years from now on SB-1070?
Steve Gallardo: That it was the worst piece of legislation ever passed by the State of Arizona, is a piece of legislation that, that has put a black cover over the State of Arizona, that has ruined our reputation, it really has. And this is something that has been very polarizing, and particularly, to a large growing Latino population in the State of Arizona, and I think this would be looked at as the one bill that has, has mobilized and, and energized the community, to get involved politically, to get involved at the election time, and run for office, and I think that this is what you are going to see in Arizona, the Latino community will come out in force.
Ted Simons: 50 years from now what do you think?
John Kavanagh: It's hard to go five years down the road much less 50.
Ted Simons: Give it a try.
John Kavanagh: I would say this. You know. You look at historians and the more traditional school history books and they have to be politically correct. And most of the books, conservatives are not too thrilled with so I think among those who are not and write pure books for whoever wants to buy it, people tend to be conservative, will look, well on it and those who are liberal will look bad, but, you know, if you look bad, on SB-1070, if you look -- if you look bat on immigration laws, and the same thing. SB-1070 was simply saying local police enforce Federal law. If, if SB-1070 is racist, so is the Federal immigration law, and neither are racist in my opinion.
Ted Simons: 30 seconds. What will the future historians say about this bill?
Bruce Merrill: I don't really -- I can't see that it's a very positive thing, but I don't think that it's negative. We're going to have -- the media has a short half life, and there is going to be other crises and they are going to forget all about this one somewhere.
Ted Simons: Oh, my goodness we have got something more controversial?
Bruce Merrill: I'm sure we will.
Ted Simons: Great discussion, and good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Steve Gallardo:State Senator; John Kavanagh:Republican Representative; Bruce Merrill:Pollster;