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At National Journal today is an interview with Russell Pearce, the former Arizona state senate president who was responsible for passing SB 1070 into law. The entire interview is worth reading. Years after he was recalled for his role in passing SB 1070, then outvoted when he tried to return to the state senate, Pearce is unapologetic, still speaking about immigration in ways that do not allow for immigrants to be recognized as what they are — hard workers trying to provide for their families and achieve the American dream. Check out some of his responses:
What was the goal of S.B. 1070?
To enforce the law. I know it’s a novel idea, that to enforce the law might be the right thing to do. You can’t continue to ignore the damage to America. As you become a lawless and Godless nation, it destroys the very Republic that our founders put into place. And the cost of this illegal-alien invasion, in terms of crime, social cost, taxpayer costs—you think somebody would think that that’s a significant issue. They’re illegal. Illegal is not a race, it’s a crime.
Why do you use the word “invasion” to describe illegal immigration?
It’s every day it goes on. If it’s not an invasion, then what is it then? If you don’t like my term, then describe what it is to me. Our own government put up signs south of Interstate 8 [a major highway in Arizona] telling Americans to stay out—too dangerous, illegal aliens. And that’s 100 miles from the border. I use the term very appropriately. It’s not a rock-throwing issue. It’s a defined term that has meaning to it.
Why is Pearce’s interview important? Because Republicans like Steve King, Ted Cruz, Jeff Sessions, and other members of Congress are still speaking like this. They spoke of executive action in apocalyptic terms when it was first announced, and they’re sure to continue trying to defund and repeal it in the next Congressional session.
But more moderate Republicans should remember that, again, Russell Pearce was recalled from office and then rejected by voters when he tried to return. SB 1070 ignited protests and boycotts in which tourists cancelled vacations and national organizations refused to hold conferences in the state. It is estimated that Arizona lost $130 million because of the law — which ended up being mostly struck down by the Supreme Court anyway. Anti-immigrant politics in states like Arizona and Alabama have proved disastrous. And they will continue to be a disaster for the GOP politically if it pursues that course.