A New Book Looks At How Immigration Changed Arizona’s Politics

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“Securing Borders, Securing Power: The Rise and Decline of Arizona’s Border Politics” is a book that traces how immigration consumed Arizona state politics from 2003 to 2010, foreshadowing national politics and establishing lasting political changes.

Michael Slaven, author of the book, analyzes how previous extreme arguments can gain momentum among politicians across the political spectrum. He presents an insider account based on illuminating interviews with political actors as well as historical research, weaving a compelling narrative of power struggles and political battles.

“Usually, parties haven’t often liked to emphasize immigration because it might cause some people who normally support the party to not prioritize that issue. For instance, some Republicans might be more business oriented and not as restrictive about immigration. Some Democratic voters in the past might’ve had some more anti-immigration feelings,” Slaven said.

It was not common for the parties to campaign on immigration, and it wasn’t a national hot topic until Trump’s campaign in 2016.

However, in Arizona, immigration was an issue years before this.

In Slaven’s new book, the security threat involving immigration was at the forefront of the debate. In Arizona, politicians started to get slammed from the public because many believed they were not doing enough regarding security. They did not want to be painted on the wrong side of this issue, according to Slaven.

Throughout Arizona, all sorts of parties began trying to solve the security problem at the border, hoping they were doing it the “right way.” Because of this, there was a time period where this issue primarily dominated state politics.

Slaven told this story in his new book and gathered evidence and resources from the political journalism of the time.

Immigration is a complex issue that contains economic and humanitarian issues, and “the security aspect of it really has a lot of traction despite how complicated the issue is,” Slaven said.

Michael Slaven, Morrison Institute for Public Policy Visiting Scholar & Author

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