Dear Mr. Wong:
To say that I was shocked and dismayed to read in Wednesday’s Arizona Republic of your proposal to deny utility services to illegal immigrants would be an understatement. Your cynical attempt to ratchet up the rhetoric over immigration to score cheap political points in a bid for office marks a new low in our state’s immigration debate.
Today is the third day in a row when Phoenix-area temperatures will reach 110 degrees or higher. Since you’re a native Phoenician, I don’t need to remind you of the peril our state’s most vulnerable residents face in our summer heat. To deny someone access to electricity based on his or her immigration status is not only a wrongheaded policy proposal, it’s just cruel.
If your proposal were to take effect, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where a household has its electric utilities shut off in the summer heat, thus exposing children or the elderly to potentially fatal consequences. And since you’re concerned over the citizenship of ratepayers, it bears pointing out that U.S. citizens in that household could be the ones who bear the brunt of your idea. It’s not just air conditioning that gets shut off under your proposal, but also medical equipment like respirators or dialysis machines or cooking equipment.
Your claim that your proposal is somehow consumer-friendly is absurd. The costs of implementing your plan would be borne by ratepayers, never mind the hit taxpayers would take as police and fire departments would increasingly be responding to heat-related emergencies.
This proposal has raised serious questions over your beliefs about the government’s role in consumer transactions. What other transactions would you seek to limit based on immigration status? For example, should the Department of Weights and Measures seek to ensure that access to gas station pumps is limited to legal residents?
While not your intention, you’ve demonstrated the folly of individual states attempting to craft their own immigration policies and exposed the consequences of a federal government that’s been unwilling to once and for all craft an immigration solution that secures our borders and strengthens our economy.
I hope you give your proposal serious reconsideration. It’s an unnecessary and totally unwarranted distraction away from what should be a legitimate debate over state energy policy.
President and CEO
Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry