Sonora Turismo

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Keith Rosenblum, Director of Sonora Tourism talks about Sonora, Mexico and why it just might be your next vacation destination.

José Cárdenas:
Good Evening, and welcome to "Horizonte." I'm José CárdenasJosé Cardenas.

José Cárdenas:
President Bush announces his plans for immigration reform, which calls for sending thousands of national guard troops to the u.s and Mexico border. Tonight we'll talk about the president's objectives.

José Cárdenas:
And, are you planning a summer vacation? There's a campaign to attract tourists south of the border.

José Cárdenas:
All this, coming up next on "Horizonte."

José Cárdenas:
This week President Bush addressed the nation and talked about his plan on immigration and where he stands on the issue. Bush's plan is to first secure the borders. He is calling for 6,000 national guard troops to support the border patrol. He wants to add 6,000 more border patrol agents by the year of 2008. Second, he wants to create a guest worker program which would have a legal path for foreign workers to enter the country for a limited period of time. Third, Bush wants to hold employers accountable for hiring undocumented immigrants. Fourth, the president said undocumented immigrants should not be given an automatic path to citizenship, and stressed he is against amnesty. And last, he wants all people to honor the american tradition and learn to speak and write english. Joining us now to talk about this plan and other immigration-related issues are richard ruelas, columnist with "the arizona republic," and stan barnes, president for copperstate consulting group. Gentlemen, welcome to "horizonte."

Richard Ruelas:
good to be here.

Richard Ruelas:
I'm already worried about that english requirement. How good to you need to speak english?

José Cárdenas:
One person we know speaks english very well and spanish is Stan Barnes. Tell about your background.

Stan Barnes:
I appreciate being on the show. I'm a loyal viewer. It's good to be here. I am fourth generation arizonans, and i grew up in pin ale county. For a grinning my spanish is pretty good. My friends were Mexican, and so as a child i would speak Spanish. So it's been a difference of seeing immigration from that side, and then now as a former lawmaker, and as a political consultant and someone who represents clients, it's interesting to see all sides.

José Cárdenas:
Someone who has been actively involved in the Arizona Mexico --

Stan Barnes:
Yes, I am.

José Cárdenas:
what's your overall reaction to the president's speech?

Stan Barnes:
I think the president is stepping up and in the -- what might be starting to call the twilight of his presidency, tackling the domestic issue of our time in the way he wants to tackle it, but he's very lonely within his own party. The republican party is the net loser in this immigration debate, if you want to score card it politically. The president is on the weak side of the debate within the republican party. If you took his speech and overlaid it on the Arizona legislature, you'd find a great deal more support in the democratic ranks than the republican ranks. He has tried to use his political goal, if you will, around his own table, and cash it in on this very important issue, and in the trip to Arizona and all that that meant to us here in Arizona, it's all part of the lift the issue up like a president can with the pulpit and try to push it forward in the congress here. We saw the u.s. senate pass a very dramatic bill this year, or just this week, and the president is trying with this timing to land his support and to push it forward. It's no accident that this is all happening this time in May in 2006 as the senate and the house are acting.

José Cárdenas:
Richard, same question. Your overall assessment of the speech?

Richard Ruelas:
It was unfortunate he made his speech like this, actually laid out the problem in a clear way with very little political capital to spend, with so few people believing what he says and sort of buying into it. I did also note it seemed to be an excuse to let corporations continue to keep this label pull going, that it didn't really address the issues. He sort of tossed some red meat at the right wing of the party that wants troops on the border, or some sort of fence or border wall. I think he discussed on the rush limbaugh program, vice-president dick Cheney did, that they may be open to the idea of an u.s. wall, and the senate is looking into an actual wall. But none of it really -- the only part that could work or that he seemed to concentrate on was the guest worker program, and the path to citizenship for those who are here. That's real, and it really needs to get accomplished, and it's too bad he seems to have so little capital getting that component, which is the main part of it, done.

José Cárdenas:
If he's really trying to appeal to the right wing of the Republican party --

José Cárdenas:
Report say they would prefer no immigration bill. In they passed guest worker --

Richard Ruelas:
What they want is something like the border security, the border wall, and by border wall, they mean a wall that stretches from San Diego all through Texas . By troops on the boarder, they don't mean troops going down there and helping in the supporting role, they mean troops on the border guns drawn, actively looking for people. So he's given them the buzz phrases, but not --

José Cárdenas:
Why is he acting now if he-he does haven't that much political capital, is this a response to all the protests that have taken place?

Richard Ruelas:
This issue has bubbled up since before he was president. It really came to a head in 2000-2001, and it fell off the map because of terrorism concern. And it's festered, the problem has continued to grow over the past five years, and it's hit the critical point. The margins showed what a problem it is, and it is on the front burner of public discourse.

Stan Barnes:
I think we're in the third inning of the immigration game. We've got a long way to go before there's a majority that's ready to accomplish something in the legislature and state levels all over, and the congress. I don't even know there's a majority of opinion in the United States that is one way or another. But the union fire, and to bush's credit, I think he believes this, border security is where it all begins. You cannot have any kind of plan that is functional without control of your border. And that particular question tests nicely and high among all demographics in both parties, so starting with border security is where it's at, although for many it was over the top to talk about troops or national guard on the border, but when Janet Napolitano herself in her state of the state this year laid that out for everybody, it caught our own democrats in the local state house by surprise.

Richard Ruelas: And the republicans too.

Stan Barnes:
And the republicans, because it was just -- she got right -- some of the republicans on that issue. But she's a very smart politician, you can see what it means politically that she would go that far and would talk that talk, even though when she says troops on the border she means more after supportive role and not guns drawn.

José Cárdenas:
Isn't that what Bush is saying too, and he's tried to reassure Mexico 's president fox and other Mexican officials that this is not militarization of the border, that these troops would be there for support, which is basically what the governor says.

Stan Barnes:
That's what the governor does. And she and the president are both walking an interesting and important fine line. They both value relation was Mexico . Our governor values her relationship with the governor of Sonora , and the minute she said it in her state of the state she got on the phone with the leadership of the state of Sonora and the leadership of Arizona interested in that issue and said, it's going to be ok. Here's what I meant. I've got to get reelected in the meantime.

Richard Ruelas:
But this whole idea of securing the border first, though it's important, it's not -- it can't get done unless we really put a lot of force, a lot of military there. There's a small -- there's a small road in Iraq that leads to the airport that we haven't been able to secure since we've been there. It's hard, it would be hard to secure a 2,000-mile-long border. There are places where we can do improvements in urban pockets, and we've done well on that, but to stop a flow is going to be difficult. What we can do, and why I think the most important component is a guest worker program, is to turn off the magnet. They're not coming here because of the sunny weather, they have that in Mexico too. But they're coming here for jobs. And if we can make it so they can't get as many jobs, they'll stop coming.

Stan Barnes:
There's an interesting point Richard is on, this week in Mexico one of the leading candidates for president of Mexico actually said in many ways, it's Mexico 's fault that there is this problem.

José Cárdenas:
This is the current mayor of Mexico City .

Stan Barnes:
He's seen as liberal in the election there, but I applaud him for stating what is, when it doesn't get stated in the United States very often. We in the United States are dealing with the symptom of Allah tin America , particularly Mexico , that can't get its act together. So if any of us were born there we'd think about coming north, and that's what's happening. It's Mexico and Latin America failing their own citizen and it took a liberal within the Mexican race for president to say it out loud.

Richard Ruelas:
But boy, did we help. We helped when a bunch of corporation that's didn't used to use this labor pool suddenly decided, we want in too and construction, and restaurant and resorts, and meat packing plants, they didn't used to be a big Mexican immigrant contingent in places like Nebraska or Oklahoma.

José Cárdenas:
Or hard, Connecticut .

Richard Ruelas:
There are now. And it's no accident. They didn't just go there on spec, they're recruited, because industries have decide we will go to Mexico and put recruiting drives to get them to work at a food processing plant in the midwest.

José Cárdenas:
But how does the president's proposal deal with that?

Richard Ruelas:
There's a little bit on sanction, but we'll have a guest worker program that has businesses set up some sort of system to let workers fill jobs that they can't find people in this country to do.

José Cárdenas:
Doesn't that make it easier for people to get here than harder?

Richard Ruelas:
Yes, except now the companies will have to sort of play by some rules. There will be a regularization that will have to go on once we get this in place. We're talking about a major bureaucracy. We'll see if this ends up actually coming to fruition or no. But there's going to be a point where they're going to be driven further underground and there's fewer jobs, or they'll be -- there will be an actual coming back and forth. Jon keel's plan makes some sense in dealing with new workers coming in, where they come n. Work for a couple years, and then go back and take the skills and money and take it back to Mexico and help that country improve too. That actually would help both countries.

Stan Barnes:
There's a spillover issue or two, a lot of middle America doesn't believe anyone wants to go back anymore. That the old system of my childhood, where the farm workers came up, made their money and went south again, that's gone as a social aspect. That no one really wants to go back, they want to come here where the money is and where the living is good. So that -- this idea of a plan that allows back and forth doesn't necessarily have the broad base political support it will need to sustain itself. Then there's also the idea that the simulation and the level of immigration is made middle America greatly uncomfortable.

Stan Barnes:
Somebody got wise when she said to the marchers, put down the Mexican flags and pick up the flag of the United States . That was a great political move on their part, because it started telling the story the way they wanted to, second, we want to be separate --

Richard Ruelas:
It's an illusion.

José Cárdenas:
The president was getting at that when he was talking about english speaking language and learning that. But everything I've seen suggests the rate of assimilation among the Mexican population is as high or higher than it has been among other immigrant groups, and the difference is the constant replenishment because it's right across the border. So my understanding is it's a little bit of a myth.

Stan Barnes:
Politically I don't think it's accepted --

Richard Ruelas:
What has happened, if you grew up in marry veil, you've seen your neighborhood change. And now when do you to the store people are speaking Spanish, and that does -- it's somehow just resonates with people, I don't want people speak another language, I want them to speak english. And that's an emotional issue. It took my family three generations to produce a college graduate, me. And now we're seeing first generation kids -- .

José Cárdenas:
I understand it was a little iffy.

Richard Ruelas:
We're still checking there's -- transcripts of the we're seeing children come over at 3 or 4, first generation, become college graduates. That's an astounding rate of assimilation. It's actually a problem, because you have workers who would have gone back, and you're talking about with your childhood, they were called migrants for a reason, they came and went.

Richard Ruelas:
It's going to be difficult to uproot these people and send them back to a civilization that to their children is foreign.

José Cárdenas:
The reason why you don't have people going back and forth across the boarder as they did in the past, it's gotten so much harder to get in and out of the country. So instead of going home to their families, they're bringing their families here.

Stan Barnes:
Which is -- leads to yet another issue that is a side issue but very important, we focus on the poor immigrant that humbly and honestly wants to work in North America . But there is a criminal element that is large and impacts u.s. social society, and that element is also moving the politic around. When you have a running gun battle on interstate 10 as we did a couple years ago, all of a sudden --

Richard Ruelas:
That's the smugglers who have decided to capitalize on this --

Stan Barnes:
there is the smuggler criminals as part of the capitalizing on human misery, but there's also, when the border opened, a criminal element comes north because that's where the money is. My own humble prediction is the day where there's terrorist activity approvable from someone walking from Mexico to the united states, they will build a fence and the politics will be just right and the money will be there, and support will be there because that's -- that security is that critical once we're proven vulnerable. Right now it's a theory.

José Cárdenas:
Speaking of a fence, the senate approved a 370-mile triple-layered fence. Is that going to pass the house?

Richard Ruelas:
It's only 1400 miles to go. It will sail through the house because the house wants this fence. I don't think they've determined where it's going to be, how it's going to look. The minutemen are building a small fence on private land. So we'll have fences. And they're not going to be complete or comprehensive, but they will sound good, and to middle America the idea we're building a fence on the boarder has the illusion that we're doing something.

José Cárdenas:
On the subject of amnesty, which the president's been criticized for, the argument is that people shouldn't be allowed to go to the head of the line or get an advantage there, and they should go through the process. But we had a series of reports on npr, we had articles in the Arizona republic that suggests there is no line. And there is no process. Unless you are related to a u.s. citizen, or eligible for one of those few rare visas for professionals to come over, it's basically impossible to get into the country.

Stan Barnes:
I understand many feel that way. Some of the facts, though, shine a different kind of light on it. The United States immigrates more citizens than --

José Cárdenas:
You've got about 20 seconds.

Stan Barnes:
So a lot of immigrants is -- migration is happening, that in fact people that have done it the right way remain incensed that people that have done it the wrong way --

Richard Ruelas:
But they're not. The large number who have come here illegally are not upset at what polls have shown at giving amnesty or giving some forgiveness who came across and snuck across.

José Cárdenas:
On that note we'll have to end our interview. Thank you both for joining us on "Horizonte."

José Cárdenas:
If you're looking for a place to get away to this summer, how about heading to the border? Traveling to Sonora is now easier than ever. There is a campaign to attract tourists south of the border. Take a look.

José Cárdenas:
I had the opportunity to talk to Keith Rosenblum, director for Sonora tourism about the campaign. Tell us a little bit about Sonora . We saw a variety of different images on that promotional piece. Obviously you've got beaches, you've got colonial cities, tell us about it.

Keith Rosenblum:
It's probably part after misconception, you go to Sonora just for beaches. Actually it's appropriate probably coming on the heels of the hospital administrator, you have an awful lot of people who now look at retiring to Mexico because your medical costs are a fraction of what they are in the states, and in Sonora you have a state that is every bit as diverse as Arizona . You have mountains, snow, you have the colonial cities, the Rio Sonora, villages up in the mountains to the -- in the center of the state. And then you have this incredible development going on all along the entire coast. Sonora has 500 miles of coast, it actually is from Nogales to the southern limit of Sonora is actually just 350 or 400 miles, but you have a coast that zig and zags, and as a consequence, these last couple of years you had an amazing boom, and as do you farther south -- as do you farther south you have large developments planned south of there, and san carols has also gone through a boom of its own. Mexico generally is doing quite well. Sonora in particular has been a beneficiary of both American tourists that are going down, the Mexican American market going home sometimes to visit, and also with increasing purchasing power and buying second homes or condos. So the last couple of years you've seen this just amazing boom next door.

José Cárdenas:
You made some reference to the fact that Arizona , Sonora were once part of the same state in Mexico when you referred to people going home, for example. There's a lot of cross border traffic, a lot of ties, family on both sides.

Keith Rosenblum:
This is something the Mexicans themselves have sought to do. You always want to go after the kind of mainstream an below -- an glow households, but in that immigrant community is a very influential and affluent Mexican American community, and there are attempts both with this website, this website is wwwgotosonora.com. And the same information is provided to people both in English and Spanish. Years ago I believe it was the minister of tourism schedule never see Sonora or any of the beach places become similar to an Acapulco or place like that, he said the climate is just too oppressive. People probably said the same thing about Arizona . But for people who haven't been to rocky point for a couple years, what you see now is one high-rise after another, and housing price that's they're still are a fraction of what it would cost in California or Oregon or along the u.s. Coast, but for Mexico they're appreciably higher.

José Cárdenas:
Now, Mexicans living in the United States , Mexican Americans who have cultural and family ties to Sonora might feel comfortable going there, but what about people who don't have those connections? I assume it can be a little intimidating for them.

Keith Resemble:
You go -- I've been going to and from for 30 years. I've been blessed with the opportunity working in media and on my own to be able to go to villages, along the Rio Sonora to cities there, and, yes, the u.s. in many ways is one of the last great islands we speak one languages, most of our country does, we don't -- we're not big travelers in comparison with a lot of other foreign communities, and so people do have that trepidation or phobia of going to Mexico. They may be fearful of the legal system --

José Cárdenas:
And what are the sonoraians doing to deal with those fears?

Keith Rosenblum: A number of fronts started 10, 15 years ago, things have started yesterday. One is that Mexico both by design and by circumstance has become almost a bilingual nation. You have english mandatory at the elementary level in Sonora, and it's like having a Mexican population that more and more can talk to visitors, not just americans obviously, but english speakers from anywhere in the world. You have a country or state in Sonora that's much more hospitable toward foreigners, you have the ford motor company plant which now has increased having a third shift, they have 3,000 people working there while ford has been laying people off in the u.s., you have a general --

José Cárdenas: And a plant that I understand earns high quality --

Keith Rosenblum:
One of the highest in all the Lincoln mercury stamping and assembly plants, they had an auditing rate where you can rate vehicle to vehicle, and this is one of the -- was one of the second or third most productive and least error prone in the entire system.

José Cárdenas:
How hard is it for Arizonans or other Americans to go drive into Mexico ?

Keith Rosenblum:
It used to be really nasty. Mexico itself was Sonora with, can you show us more papers and they'll find something wrong with your paperwork or you wouldn't bring down a copy of your -- you bring down a copy of your birth certificate instead of a certified copy, or instead of the original document. And what's happened, and this is in particular under the governor, it started years ago, you have looking to break down one barrier after another. I would say it's easier to travel to Mexico now and Sonora in particular than it is for Mexicans or foreigners to come to the u.s.

José Cárdenas:
And as I understand, one significant change made by the current governor is the extension of the free zone.

Keith Rosenblum:
That's the mainstay of this most recent advertising program. What the governor has done is to declare what -- in Spanish is a -- you can go to rocky point or the border, no gales -- Nogales -- without any immigration --

José Cárdenas:
I want to make sure we talk about the website. Tell bus the website and how useful it is.

Keith Rosenblum: Whether it's hotels, bicycling, whether it's hunting, whatever it is, go to that website and you will learn about the state. In either language.

José Cárdenas:
Great.

José Cárdenas:
For information on upcoming shows or shows that have already aired, please visit our website at azpbs.org and click on "horizonte."

José Cárdenas:
That's "Horizonte" for this thursday night. Next week former united states Supreme Court justice Sandra day O'Connor and Arizona Supreme Court justice Ruth McGregor talk about judicial independence.

José Cárdenas: I'm José Cárdenas. For all of us here at "horizonte," have a good night.

Stan Barnes: President, Copper State Consulting group;

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