Both Brewer, Pearce call SB 1070 a success

2011-04-18T00:00:00Z 2011-05-03T00:40:42Z Both Brewer, Pearce call SB 1070 a successHoward Fischer Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Star
April 18, 2011 12:00 am  • 

PHOENIX - It provoked demonstrations and boycotts. And some key provisions have been enjoined by federal courts.

But a year after Gov. Jan Brewer signed it into law, you'll never convince Senate President Russell Pearce that SB 1070, which he crafted, is anything but an unqualified success.

"They're leaving in caravans," he said of illegal immigrants.

"I've talked to a U-Haul dealer," Pearce continued. "He said business has never been better."

And the rentals have been one-way, Pearce said.

Brewer, who gained national recognition with her signature, said she, too, believes SB 1070 has been a success. But her perspective is a bit different.

Brewer continues to fight in court to set aside the injunction by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton against enforcement of some provisions. That effort suffered another setback just this past week when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Bolton's decision.

But the governor said just the act of passing the law made a difference.

"It has really brought more people aware of the issues we are facing in Arizona," the governor said. "It's been amazing what this bill has generated."

That awareness got action.

It was not until Brewer signed the bill that President Obama found time in his schedule to meet with the governor in Washington. And it was not until that meeting that Obama made a firm commitment to put additional National Guard troops along the border with Mexico, albeit only for a year.

Pearce said he sees the effect in more immediate terms.

It is true that Bolton said the state could not enforce a provision of the law requiring police officers to make a reasonable attempt to check the immigration status of those they have stopped. Also enjoined were provisions forbidding police from releasing anyone they have arrested until that person's immigration status is determined, and creating a new state crime for trying to secure work while not in this country legally.

But Pearce pointed out the Obama administration, which brought the lawsuit, did not challenge several other provisions. Key among them, he said, is a requirement for local officials to cooperate with the federal government on issues of illegal immigration.

"The purpose of 1070 was to eliminate sanctuary policies," he said, where officials in some communities made a conscious decision not to call immigration officials when they come across those not in the country legally. "That's done."

That section of the law has teeth, he said, with anyone who believes cities are not cooperating entitled to sue for damages up to $5,000 a day.

"1070 puts citizens in charge," he said.

The administration also did not seek to block enforcement of other provisions making it a crime to stop a vehicle in traffic to hire a day laborer, or for someone looking for work to get into a stopped vehicle or making it illegal to transport or harbor an illegal immigrant.

All of that, Pearce said, has had an effect.

"Violent crime has dropped three times the national average in Arizona," he said.

"That's huge," Pearce continued. "How many lives does that mean? How many victims does that avoid?"

There's a financial component to that, too.

"We're 500 inmates below where we were last year," he said, which not only saves about $30,000 a year per inmate but also avoids prosecution costs.

What the state needs to spend in aid to public schools, as families pack up for elsewhere, has also declined, he said.

But there is a negative side still hanging out there.

Shortly after the bill was signed, tourism officials said they were hit with a wave of cancellations for future conferences and conventions.

Kristin Jarnigan, spokeswoman for the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association, said at the time that the first cancellations were from groups taking a stand against SB 1070. "But what we're hearing now ... is a lot of the meetings are bypassing Arizona because they just don't want to be associated with the controversy," she said.

Brewer, who formed a task force to deal with the image problem, acknowledged that groups that were planning to come to Arizona in the future were having second thoughts.

The law did have one other almost immediate effect: It made both Brewer and Pearce national figures, with regular appearances on talk shows.

Brewer said she now gets recognized pretty much wherever she goes. But she said the real benefit of all that publicity is the ability to get out the word about the problems along the border.

 

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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