Arizona Congressman Ed Pastor discusses immigration reform, Arizona’s primary election, and other issues.
José Cardenas: Democratic congressman Ed Pastor represents Arizona's Congressional District 4. The district is based entirely in Maricopa County, including Glendale, Guadalupe and parts of Phoenix. I talked to Arizona Congressman Pastor about immigration and other issues affecting his district. It's always good to have you on "Horizonte."
Ed Pastor: Thanks for the invitation.
José Cardenas: It's been a long time. We need to catch up. We do want to talk about some specific things, S.B. 1070, of course, but you're here because you're on break. What do you expect to be the most important issues when you go back after break?
Ed Pastor: When we go back, we're going to go back September 13th and be there until October 10th. And that period we'll probably be dealing with the appropriations bills and we still haven't completed all of the appropriations and we'll be doing that. They'll be some other legislation that still is hanging around in the senate. There may come over some financial credit card stuff that may be there. But most of the stuff will be in the appropriations stuff fund the government, what starts in October 1st 2011.
José Cardenas: The so-called must have?
Ed Pastor: Must have pieces of legislation.
José Cardenas: There are rumors that proponents of the Dream Act may try to slip that into one of these must have pieces of legislation. Do you think that's going to happen?
Ed Pastor: I don't think so. If there's a chance for the Dream Act it's going to be in the lame duck because after the general election we're going go back after the general and be there -- we'll take a break for Thanksgiving but be there probably until the week before Christmas. And it's anticipated that at that time, because you have members who have lost their election, retired, whatever reason, they're not under the gun, the scrutiny of a campaign, that they may -- the members of congress and the senate, may be willing to look at it. So I -- I think that there'll be an attempt to do the comprehensive immigration reform.
José Cardenas: There will be an attempt?
Ed Pastor: I think. So now, the reason that the strategy in the past has been not to piece is -- piecemeal, Dream Act, other industries -- hospitality, and etc. -- if you piecemeal and take pieces away from the comprehensive, then the support for a comprehensive bill will begin to be diffused. So I think there will be an attempt do the comprehensive immigration and if that doesn't happen, possibly may want to do a Dream Act. Now, the issue there is will they attempt the Dream Act that is by itself standing alone? Because if there's going to be an attempt to do a Dream Act, then you have all the other interests that may want to build a Christmas tree around the dream act. That may drive people away. That's the strategy that probably after the election -- after attempts to have comprehensive immigration may be looked at.
José Cardenas: You've indicated it will be impacted by the election results. In the sense you have people who don't have political future.
Ed Pastor: Don't have a dog in the fight, yeah.
José Cardenas: What if as some people predict, immigration turns out to be the seminal issue in the November elections and you have Democrats who feel it's really hurt their party? Do you think that will lessen the appetite for comprehensive reform or let's get it done and bite the bullet now?
Ed Pastor: It's an issue that needs to get done. We may have at least the ability to gain votes because people no longer will be affected by the vote because -- and this may be a vote they can take based on policy, rather than politics. And so the determination, I guess, will be gauged by what happens in November. And -- but I would tell you that it's my belief that the Democrats are going to do better than people expect. And in some states, you're going to have people returning and that would tell you, I believe, in Arizona you would have support for immigration reform because you have possibly five Democrats returning to congress. You have a proponent in Mesa, Jeff Flake, and a possibility to support immigration reform would be John Shadegg.
Ed Pastor: And John, if it's a bill he can support, he might. Because of the situation in Arizona and the policy.
José Cardenas: Do you think the Democrats will hold on to the house?
Ed Pastor: I think so. It will be less margin.
José Cardenas: The senate, presumably.
Ed Pastor: I think so, yes.
José Cardenas: Let's talk about the S.B. 1070, you made reference to Congressman Shadegg -- may be happening a certain way because of what's happening in Arizona. Is it a sense that Arizona not only has become so-called ground zero for the immigration debate but maybe the light's been pretty negative and the motivation would be to do something that people would consider?
Ed Pastor: There's a combination of things. If you take the national attention that S.B. 1070 has gotten in terms of the negative image of Arizona and some people have given it for all the -- the rage that you have occurring on the streets in terms of people being stopped, etc., and I think even within the state legislature, and in Arizona, among the Republicans, you're going to find that in the leadership positions, you may find support for moderate Republicans and I'm being told, I mean, I can't -- but tomorrow will be very telling because I've been told the business community as well as other factors have been very active in trying to support the more moderate, more -- well, the moderate point of view on immigration, to be able to get elected. So tomorrow is very telling in terms -- or the primary is very telling in who wins the primary. So I think you're going to have a fight in the state legislature in terms of leadership. At the same time, you're going to have an opportunity between November and December to look at this and say, what makes good policy rather than just a political situation?
José Cardenas: Now, this interview will air a couple of days after the vote. You're talking about tomorrow's primary here in Arizona.
Ed Pastor: Right.
José Cardenas: So we'll find out --
Ed Pastor: Oh, find out. [Laughter]
José Cardenas: -- whether you're right. But let's talk about the politics surrounding the federal government intervention in the lawsuit. They finally did file their lawsuit. A lot of people thought they took way too long.
Ed Pastor: I agree with you. In fact, I was worried because when the bill was signed, I -- I immediately declared that the United States government had standing because of the constitution in the supremacy clause where there are issues left to the federal government and obviously, naturalization, immigration, citizenship is a federal issue so at the very beginning, I felt and conversations with the U.S. attorney here, conversations with the attorney general holder, letters we sent to the administration, and I -- I would agree that they took too long.
José Cardenas: So there were -- you were putting pressure, you and other -- caucus.
Ed Pastor: The best we could.
José Cardenas: A lot of people think that politically it wasn't the best move for the administration. Terms of the possible impacts in the upcoming elections, they would have been better offer if they had not intervened.
Ed Pastor: But the policy would have been if the federal government had not done what this did in terms of getting an injunction, then you would have had a number of states begin passing their laws very similar to S.B. 1070. And then you would have had a Balkanization, different states with different laws. You have to remember, if you read the history of these bills, everything is coming out of a law school in Missouri, and so it's a national phenomenon, that we have a law professor in Missouri that has a network throughout the United States with the more conservative state legislators and so if it happens in Arizona, which it did, because the governor signed the bill, why not take it to other states?
José Cardenas: You're talking about the professor who helped Senator Pearce write the bill?
Ed Pastor: Yes.
José Cardenas: Where do we go from here? A lot of people say right or wrong, S.B. 1070 was a reflection with the frustration of the federal government to deal with the immigration issue.
Ed Pastor: Well, I would say people are frustrated, but a lot of frustration is because if you see a number of TV shows, depends what your leaning is, you can see TV 24 hours, seven days a week, and immigration people are talking about it, some in a very negative way, to get rid of everyone, and some to be more positive. I believe that the solution is going to be comprehensive immigration reform and that's why I'm an advocate for it. Because once you've crossed that barrier, that threshold, then possibly the rhetoric on undocumented and what are we going to do will lessen. That's my belief.
José Cardenas: Part of the pressure with respect to immigration is the high employment rates that make it less palatable to increase the number of people competing for jobs.
Ed Pastor: If you honestly believe there was competition, but as you well know, that in many of the positions that people were engaged in, by the places that were raided, by -- and use that, it was at the lowest level of employment, the service industry and the construction industry. Hotels. Chicken pluckers. And so they were able go in because they were -- people were not able -- or did not want that type of employment.
José Cardenas: Congressman, one last S.B. 1070-related question.
Ed Pastor: Yes, sir.
José Cardenas: From the beginning, Congressman Grijalva called for a boycott. You did not.
Ed Pastor: I did not.
José Cardenas: Why not?
Ed Pastor: I thought to force the federal government, because they had standing, the only way you could stop the law immediately was in an injunction. Injunctive relief. A boycott would have been something that took longer and was not a legal solution. I wanted a legal solution and stop the law in its tracks and the boycott would have hurt a lot of people that I try to help in getting jobs at the lower income levels, hotels and restaurants. So it's a double-edged sword but I felt we had to cut the head off immediately and the only way to do it was through an injunction, through the legal means.
José Cardenas: Now, another area where the federal government is intersecting with Arizona on an issue of local importance is the civil rights investigation of the sheriff's office. Anything you can tell us about that?
Ed Pastor: I know it's ongoing and the thing that's bothered me -- bothers me is that it's going on so long. I thought it was a clear cut case that there were violations. What's bothering me -- and I can't see why the federal government can't step up. When the sheriff's department is not cooperating and when they've asked for data, asked for record that's a person who a law enforcement person can say I see it as a fishing trip. And I'm not going to comply. I mean, no law-abiding citizen would we put up with that, if the federal government asked you for data, for evidence, that you would say, no, I don't think it's worth the time for you to do it. There's cause and people need to look at it. And I was very disappointed we haven't gone faster.
José Cardenas: Congressman, that's about it for our time.
Ed Pastor: Good to see you.
José Cardenas: See you after the elections and see how you predicted.
Ed Pastor: Thank you.
Ed Pastor:U.S. Congressman;