SB 1070 Politics

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ASU Politicial Science Professor Rudy Espino discusses the politics of the US Supreme Court’s ruling on SB 1070.

Richard Ruelas: The SB 1070 decision had both sides claiming victory, but what will be the political fall-out on the ruling? Joining me tonight to talk about the politics of the decision is Rudy Espino. Both sides did claim victory. Why? Let's discuss governor Brewer who said that this was a complete vindication of the law. What led her to say that?

Rudy Espino: Well, four major provisions, three of them got shut down by the Supreme Court. One of the most important provisions that remained -- and this is why governor Brewer is claiming victory -- is the so-called show me your papers police provision that opened the door for law enforcement in Arizona, when they pulled somebody over, if they suspect that they're in this country illegally, they can proceed and ask their immigration status. For that reason, she's claiming victory. The other side is claiming victory because of three of the other provisions being shut down, and this also establishes some limits on how far states can go in enforcing immigration policies. 'Cause the major decision that the court issued in terms of shooting down those three provisions was saying, hey, states, immigration is the purview of the federal government, and you can't enforce that.

Richard Ruelas: The part that they left standing seemed to come with enough provisions, enough warning that it's hard to see it clear-cut. On principle, is that what the importance is for governor Brewer and others that the principle was upheld?

Rudy Espino: Yeah. The main thing was that local law enforcement now can proceed and inquire in terms of immigration status. That's how they claim victory. But at the same time, both sides are claiming victory. You also have to accept defeat, because Brewer -- a lot of what Brewer wanted did get shot down. On the other hand, the other side, that important provision of show me your papers, that was probably one of the most troubling ones for Latino activists.

Richard Ruelas: Right. The law is going to go into effect at some point. Brewer is not up for election this cycle, but do you think she will have a footprint? Will there be people seeking her endorsement? Is she as popular as she was when she signed this law two years ago?

Rudy Espino: It's hard to -- I think that people within the republican party would be seeking her endorsement. I think her popularity is not as high as it was when she got reelected into office, but undoubtedly people that would be seeking her endorsement are people that would be continuing that mantra saying that they're tough on immigration enforcement. That's certainly something that Jan Brewer has been pushing for since she signed S-B 10-70 back in the spring of 2010.

Richard Ruelas: On this pushing on that side, the people who are running for office, how does this play out or what does this do to sort of the issue of immigration in political races?

Rudy Espino: The republican primaries we're looking at are almost a month away at the end of August, and undoubtedly it's still popular to outimmigration the other parties, saying I'm going to build a bigger fence, a tougher wall, a bigger moat. Those individuals need to keep in mind the growing importance of the Latino electorate in Arizona. Several colleagues of mine had a survey out in the field when the S-B 10-70 court ruling came out. We interviewed registered Latino voters here in Arizona and several other battleground states, and we found among Latino voters across all the states and here in Arizona included that the majority of Latino voters are really troubled by this S-B 10-70 ruling. And also, too, they fear that this is going to create a more hostile environment toward Latinos in the United States. And so you take into account there's a growing demographic group that will be critical in upcoming elections, and they're scared of what the republican party has been pushing.

Richard Ruelas: So does that explain -- I mean, Mitt Romney's response was not as strong as what we saw from Ben Quayle, Jeff Flake. Is he trying to find the path that gets Latinos to vote for him?

Rudy Espino: Yeah. He's appealing to a national audience now. He's clearly the republican nominee. He's now going to have to start moving away from the tacks he's made to the right to win the republican nomination and start appealing to that sensitive voter. A lot of voters now are not as supportive of a tough immigration stance that we see in all the S-B 10-70s. They're more concerned about the economy and the jobs. So Mitt Romney has to start thinking about ways to not be so tough and scare individuals away, particularly Latino voters in a lot of those battleground states: Colorado, Nevada, and of course Florida and New Mexico.

Richard Ruelas: It seems like that, in 2008, 2010, the economy was somehow intertwined with immigration. Do you see that happening in this cycle that the bad economy will be blamed or that immigration will be shown to be part of that?

Rudy Espino: No. I think certainly that rhetoric is moving away, and I think a lot of that data is pointing towards it. We're not having the influx of immigration that we saw when the economy was booming during the early 2000s. To continue to make Latino immigrants the scapegoat, I just don't think that's resonating with that independent voter.

Richard Ruelas: It sounds like you're not anticipating a border fence, a John McCain-type ad this time around.

Rudy Espino: I think what Romney is looking at is learning the lesson that that did not work for McCain and probably going to take some pages out of the play book that George W. bush had in 2004.

Richard Ruelas: Well, it worked for McCain so much that it got him back into office, but you're saying it didn't work in a deeper sense?

Rudy Espino: Well, what I was talking about was with respect to McCain's vote share among Latino voters in 2008 compared to bush's vote share of Latino voters in 2000 but most importantly in 2004. This passionate conservatism. Right? And he made efforts to appeal to Latino voters, talking about comprehensive immigration reform. And that resonated with Latino voters, but McCain sort of backed away from that, and you saw republicans at the state and national levels also following that tack. It has not worked very well for them. I think Romney is trying to cut into Obama's poll numbers, but he's going to have to take some pages out of the George W. bush play book.

Richard Ruelas: Even in local races, state races, you might see it a lot more?

Rudy Espino: Yeah. National politics versus local politics is completely different.

Richard Ruelas: So we'll look for those ads maybe on the small cable stations where we see the state representative border fence attitude.

Rudy Espino: Those will resonate in those races.

Richard Ruelas: We'll have you back before the elections, and I thank you for joining us on this evening.

Rudy Espino: Thank you for having me.

Rudy Espino:Professor of Political Sciences, ASU;

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