With immigration the main issue on everyone’s mind, I thought it would be irresponsible to avoid Monday’s historic immigration march. So yesterday afternoon I drove to the Capitol and walked around the mall and amongst the protesters during the rally to observe it first-hand. It was quite peaceful, other than trying to avoid getting hit by moms with babies in strollers.
I wasn’t looking for media attention, but a few reporters found me anyway.
I am concerned at the overheated rhetoric, particularly in the Republican primary. I think you can be in favor of securing the border and enforcing our laws without using inflammatory rhetoric, and at the same time hold to President Reagan’s vision of America as a “shining city on a hill.” Comments like these made by my primary opponents are not only not helpful, they are downright irresponsible:
• The country “should not be stuck with ignorant and illiterate” illegals from Mexico.
• We should send in the National Guard to “break up” protests.
• “People here illegally have no rights.”
A majority of Latinos support secure borders and oppose illegal immigration. They supported Proposition 200. They are pro-family, cultural conservatives, deeply religious, and committed to the work ethic. In other words, their natural home is the party of Lincoln, the Republican Party. But comments like the ones above will drive them into the Democratic Party in droves.
The Declaration of Independence declares universally that our rights come from the Creator, not from government. To say that a fellow human being has “no rights” violates our nation’s founding principles and is dehumanizing.
Having the National Guard on stand-by is one thing. But to suggest sending in the National Guard to “break up” peaceful protests involving families and children is to guarantee bloodshed and tragedy, and shows an unfortunate lack of wisdom and judgment.
We are better than this.
Yes, I am offended at those who have come here illegally demanding to be given full citizenship rights. Waving Mexican flags and telling Americans to go back to Europe, as some protesters have done, is provocative and foolish. I will continue to take a strong stand on illegal immigration and enforcing the rule of law:
• We should not wait on the federal government to secure our borders. As a sovereign state, we must invest resources in technology, physical walls where appropriate and manpower to effectively stop the illegal flow into our state.
• We must enforce sanctions against employers who knowingly hire illegals.
• Simple justice requires a rejection of any form of amnesty – there can be no policy that allows those who have come illegally to gain an advantage over those who have waited in line to enter legally, from whatever country.
That said, I am not going to get caught up in a bidding war to see who can make the most outrageous, irresponsible or insensitive comment. I am not going to flog Latinos in order to get elected.
I have to believe we are better than this. As Sen. Jon Kyl has said, “we ought to have a civil and comprehensive discussion of this critically important issue.” We can take a stand against illegal immigration in a civil fashion, but that requires thoughtfulness and discipline.
Meanwhile, where was Janet Napolitano? What did she have to say about this march of more than 100,000 people to her front door? I looked for her as I walked around the Capitol, but didn’t see her. What kind of leadership did she provide on this issue that is stirring the passion of most Arizonans?
Here’s what she told the press:

“I believe that we must never lose sight of the fact that immigration reform and control of our international borders is, first and foremost, the responsibility of the federal government.”

Nice punt.