Message of the Week
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
It was my privilege this week to travel to the international border at San Luis, Arizona, and greet the men and women of the National Guard who are doing their part to support "Operation Jump Start." As you've heard, Jump Start gives National Guard support to the U.S. Border Patrol. Guard members relieve Border Patrol agents of tasks such as fence building, communications and surveillance, to allow the BP to focus on enforcing federal law by arresting and detaining illegal immigrants.
It has taken us a while to get to this point. The federal government has been very slow to accept its responsibility to control our borders and even slower to act. I was very pleased, though, with the President's announcement of Operation Jump Start, and I was glad to accompany him during his visit to the Arizona border just a couple of weeks ago. Over the course of the next two years, the President's plan will replace National Guard support with 6,000 new Border Patrol agents deployed across the entire Southwest border.
The issue of illegal immigration has been with me throughout my career in public service. As U.S. Attorney for Arizona, I supervised the prosecution of thousands of illegal immigration cases.
As Attorney General, I engineered legislation that allows investigators to use the "damming warrant" technique to target the money flow of human smuggling organizations and to interrupt their operations.
As Governor, I have been pleased to see the success of the Fraudulent ID Task Force I created last year. This new operation has made more than 100 arrests in just its first year, breaking up several large criminal organizations involved in manufacturing the false identification used for illegal immigration. Additionally, last year I supported and signed legislation that makes human trafficking a crime under Arizona law.
Yet, while the Federal Government is finally dedicating resources to our Border and the Arizona National Guard is preparing to help secure our Border, our Legislature was passing unworkable legislation opposed by every major law enforcement organization in Arizona. There was a laundry list of problems with the Republican legislature's so-called immigration bill: it offered amnesty to employers who broke the law by hiring illegal immigrants (all an employer would have had to do, if caught, was to fire the illegal worker); it further protected those employers by forcing the state to pay all their legal costs if they're sued; it forced local police and sheriff's departments to pick up immigrants on misdemeanor trespassing charges - which means law enforcement officer's time and budgets would be consumed by processing those crimes, rather than being on the street fighting assault, burglary, rape and more.
Last January, I sent the legislature a workable, realistic $100 million border enforcement package. They chose not to focus on that; instead, they spent five months (and who knows how much wasted taxpayer time and money) cobbling together a package of weak, ineffective and wasteful "immigration" proposals that they knew would draw a veto. Do you sense a political game here?
Illegal immigration is a complicated problem that requires a comprehensive solution. I believe the most effective and realistic way to solve the problem of illegal immigration is a comprehensive approach that includes:
* real employer sanctions
* tougher enforcement including the use of technology at the border
* streamlining of the visa process and a guest worker program that acknowledges the economic drive behind illegal immigration.
A veto does not mean our work toward immigration reform has stopped; far from it. In fact, I look forward to working with the federal government, our National Guard, law enforcement and the leaders of our local communities to implement effective measures to deter illegal immigration.
As always, I appreciate your input, and encourage you to call my office at 602.542.1318 if you have questions or thoughts to share. Or, please visit our website at http://www.azgovernor.gov for information and news in state government.
Yours very truly,