Arizona’s senators must reject Biden’s latest radical nominee

Colin Kahl (Wikimedia Commons)
Colin Kahl (Wikimedia Commons)

For those of us who have spent our careers defending America’s borders, and those of us who live along them, there really is no denying the border crisis the country is facing today.   

The headlines are all too familiar to us: “Hundreds of migrants set out from Honduras, dreaming of U.S.” as reported by the Associated Press. Or a recent Washington Post report that found that the Biden administration was now “holding record numbers of unaccompanied migrant teens and children in detention cells for far longer than legally allowed”. This is a crisis by any definition.    

Tom Homan

Many Americans are rightly paying attention to Biden White House policies, including its policies at the border. But they also need to be paying attention to the people he is choosing for senior positions in his administration.    

I spent a year and a half of my 34-year career in public service as acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). I led and served with thousands of patriots and heroes every day. This was the high point in a career in government that started in 1983 when I was sworn in as a local law enforcement officer.    

I served under Republicans and Democrats. I served under those who prioritized border security and those who had other immigration priorities. I was even honored for my service by President Obama.   

I know what it takes to be effective in government in pursuit of the public good. And I know when someone doesn’t have what it takes to put disagreement aside, admit you’re wrong, and reach compromise because it’s good for the country.   

And that’s why I know that one of President Biden’s nominees to one of the most senior and influential positions in the Pentagon, Colin Kahl, is the wrong man for the job.   

Mr. Kahl has never met a disagreement he couldn’t further antagonize with a snarky one-liner. He’s referred to his political opponents on Twitter as being “guilty of ethnic cleansing” and described the Republican party as a “death cult”.   

His position, if confirmed by the Senate, in the Department of Defense will make him the Pentagon’s representative to the White House. He’ll not only have a voice in matters of peace and war, he will be involved in the highest-level decisions of our government on securing the border, detaining illegal immigrants, and asylum policy.    

If confirmed, Mr. Kahl’s position would require him to work with people who may disagree with him, to make compromises and see issues from perspectives other than his own. Mr. Kahl has no record of being able to do that.  

And of specific interest to me, especially given the crisis unfolding today on the border, Mr. Kahl’s record is especially alarming.    

He repeatedly opposed efforts to secure the border in the prior administration, such as building the wall and sending troops to the border to stem the flow of caravans of immigrants seeking to illegally cross the border or abuse the asylum process. Additional presence of enforcement on the border has most importantly, saved lives.   

While people like those I led at ICE were risking their lives to protect our country, secure the border, and deport criminal illegal immigrants who posed a public safety threat, Mr. Kahl was lobbing insults at them through the safety of Twitter by telling them they were dealing with a “fake crisis at the border”.   

But, thankfully, in our system, there’s a check on presidential nominees, and it’s the U.S. Senate.    

It is now up to the Senate, and Arizona’s two U.S. Senators, to do the right thing for America’s security, including her border security. Arizona’s senators pride themselves on their moderation and centrism; they pride themselves on bipartisan votes and policies. They can prove those reputations by rejecting a nominee who has shown he lacks the policy judgment and temperament to serve at the highest levels of our government.    

We are counting on Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly to do the right thing and put Arizona’s interests over politics and loyalty to Biden and Majority Leader Schumer.  

Tom Homan is the former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and currently a senior fellow at the Immigration Reform Law Institute.  

David Garcia’s call to reform ICE politically risky in Arizona

Democratic candidate for governor David Garcia speaks with a voter June 10 as he canvassed a west Phoenix neighborhood. (Photo by Carmen Forman/Arizona Capitol Times)
Democratic candidate for governor David Garcia speaks with a voter June 10 as he canvassed a west Phoenix neighborhood. (Photo by Carmen Forman/Arizona Capitol Times)

David Garcia isn’t playing it safe this election cycle.

“This year is about making a statement. That’s what’s going to win,” the Democratic gubernatorial candidate said at a July 10 debate.

In other words: Go bold or go home.

Capitalizing on fired up Democrats and a growing national trend of leftist momentum, Garcia is running a bold, progressive campaign for governor.

But Garcia’s recent calls to overhaul the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency may have been a step too far, and the resistance he has received could be a sign that unapologetic progressivism won’t play well in Arizona this election cycle.

In the midst of a three-way Democratic primary for governor, Garcia has emerged as one of the more left-leaning candidates. He is running to the left of Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, and Garcia’s liberalism is topped only by Kelly Fryer, a Democrat in the periphery of the race.

Garcia is pushing to completely undo the embattled immigration and customs agency in favor of a new immigration system. While Garcia has been careful not to use the words “abolish” and “ICE” in the same sentence when discussing his policy stance, his ultimate goal is a “top-to-bottom” overhaul of ICE in favor of something that looks completely different.

In a sense, it’s #AbolishICE lite.

“It is ultimately about getting to an immigration system that matches our values, and to me, that is a system that obviously has security but it allows the entrance, the legal entrance, of folks into the United States,” Garcia said.

Arizona’s governor has no power to tear down, replace or alter the federal agency.

Garcia’s campaign argues that the difference between his views and the national abolish ICE movement is that Garcia is calling for some type of immigration-focused agency to replace ICE.

The #AbolishICE movement grew from a Twitter hashtag to a vocal national campaign with the help of a small, but mighty group of national progressive Democrats. The movement gained traction when Democratic heavyweights, such as,  Sens. Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand jumped on board.

Supporters of the #AbolishICE movement are not all on the same page. Some want to do away the federal agency entirely with no replacement. But others like Gillibrand want to tear it down, reimagine immigrations enforcement and build something new to take the place of ICE. Garcia, who has distanced himself from that hashtag, has views in the same vein.

Garcia’s stance also sounds similar to that of his primary opponent Kelly Fryer, who called for ICE to be dismantled in favor of a new immigration solution. Fryer has embraced the abolish ICE movement.

Farley does not support abolishing ICE, though he has called for reforming the federal agency.


Regardless of Garcia’s word choice on ICE, he may as well have drawn a target on his back as soon as the words left his mouth.

Stan Barnes
Stan Barnes

Lobbyist Stan Barnes said in the long run, Garcia will regret taking a stance on ICE.

“That is among the greatest gubernatorial candidate blunders I have seen in my 30 years,” he said. “Gov. [Doug] Ducey is going to make him own those words.”

Ducey and outside groups have already come out swinging against Garcia and Fryer for their comments on ICE.

The day after Garcia called for dramatic changes at the immigrations agency, Ducey published an opinion piece in USA Today calling the #AbolishICE movement “wrong and reckless.” Ducey did not mention Garcia in the op-ed, nor did he call him out when he criticized calls to abolish ICE on a local radio show this week.

Ducey is keeping the hot-button issue in the public eye by holding a telephone town hall meeting on border security and his anti-abolish ICE stance, and sending a letter to Arizona’s congressional delegation regarding abolish ICE legislation .

The Republican Governors Association started running ads the week of July 16 against Garcia and Fryer, pegging them as “radicals” for wanting to upend ICE. The ad targeting Garcia does not mince words, and lambastes him for calling to abolish ICE.

Garcia said in a video posted on social media the ads are a distraction from Ducey’s failure to invest in K-12 education.

“Ducey can distract all he wants, but the truth is kids are in cages and our schools are falling apart. … Ducey, I’m coming for you,” he said.

This week, national political observers said the RGA’s ad buys for Ducey — the most recent ads and those coinciding with the “Red for Ed” strike — could signal the governor may face a tougher re-election battle than originally thought.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics moved the Arizona governor’s race from “likely Republican” to “leans Republican” with pundits speculating Ducey could face a dogfight this fall.

A new poll from Data Orbital could also spell trouble for Garcia.

Arizonans overwhelmingly oppose abolishing ICE, according to the poll that shows only 17 percent of the 550 likely voters surveyed support collapsing the federal agency. According to the poll, 64 percent of people oppose abolishing ICE and 19 percent were undecided.

The call to abolish ICE is wildly unpopular among Republicans, but it’s not exactly popular with Arizona Democrats either. More Democrats — 39 percent — oppose abolishing ICE than the 35 percent of Democratic respondents that support calls to cut the federal agency.

As a border state, Arizona has always leaned right on immigration, said Data Orbital President George Khalaf.

“If this is an issue that he [Garcia] is going to choose to run on, I think it’s going to be a mistake,” Khalaf said.

Calling Garcia an “extreme” candidate, Ducey’s campaign spokesman Patrick Ptak said Garcia is trying to nuance his unpopular position now that he has seen voters’ strong opposition to abolishing ICE.

“First it was free college and health care without a plan to pay for it,” Ptak said in a text message. “Now it’s abolishing ICE. This is just another example that David Garcia is the most extreme candidate for governor Arizona has ever seen. His consistent pandering to the radical Left would put the safety and security of every Arizonan at risk, not to mention bankrupt our state.”


Garcia’s nuanced take on ICE shows the fine line he is toeing as a progressive candidate running for statewide office in a center-right state that has shown little love for far-left liberals.

Typically, only moderate Democrats win higher office in Arizona, Khalaf said, citing U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and former Gov. Janet Napolitano. Sinema, who is now seeking the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jeff Flake, has carved out a centrist niche for herself, and is running as a moderate, just like Napolitano did in 2002.

U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-AZ09 (Photo by Ryan Cook, RJ Cook Photography)
U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-AZ09 (Photo by Ryan Cook, RJ Cook Photography)

Now, Sinema is a bellwether of Democratic success to the point that Khalaf views her as a litmus test for Arizona Democrats.

“If she’s not calling for it, I think there’s a reason why other Democrats aren’t calling for it,” Khalaf said. Sinema has spoken out against calls to abolish ICE.

Nationally, the Democratic Party is still reeling from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in a New York congressional district over establishment Democrat Joe Crowley, a 10-term incumbent. Ocasio-Cortez ran boldly to the left of her opponent and won, popularizing calls to abolish ICE in the process.

But Arizona doesn’t share the same political landscape as more liberal states like New York and California, Khalaf said.

In 2014, Fred DuVal lost the governor’s race to Ducey. The nail in the coffin for DuVal was when he said he opposed Arizona’s parental-consent law for a minor receiving an abortion, Khalaf said. Duval’s response was caught on tape, and he started tanking in the polls as the video gained traction, Khalaf said.

“It’s Arizona,” Khalaf said. “You can’t go too far to the left on sensitive issues like abortion and immigration.”

Running a left-leaning campaign could be a winning strategy for Garcia in the primary, but it may not give him adequate time to pivot to attract a wider base of support before the general election, Khalaf said.

Speaking more generally, Arizona Democratic Party Chairwoman Felecia Rotellini said Arizona voters are growing more open to embracing progressive values. The people moving into retirement communities in places like Sun City were teenagers in the 1960s so they understand the need for access to affordable health insurance, bettering public education and protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, she said.

The Republican agenda in Arizona is out of touch, she said, citing the special election in congressional district eight. Debbie Lesko won the seat in April by only five points — in a district President Donald Trump won by 21 points in 2016 — which gave Democrats newfound hope this election cycle.

“That is a story about change, and a shifting that’s happening amongst voters who have become awake to the fact that the Republican agenda and policies for the last two decades have failed us,” she said.

Education first

Immigration is sure to be a hot topic in Arizona this election cycle, and Democrats are hoping the hot-button issue could be a motivating factor to get Latino voters to the polls.

But it’s not clear if taking a position on ICE resonates with Latinos, who have long shied away from Arizona politics.

For non-Latinos, immigration issues are often just viewed as political rhetoric, said Joseph Garcia, director of Arizona State University’s Latino Public Policy Center, and who is of no relation to David Garcia. But Latinos view legislation dealing with deportations or separating immigrant families at the border as a personal affront, he said.

Immigration issues could absolutely be the key to driving up Latino voter participation this fall, Garcia said.

“When politics becomes personal, in that it affects you personally, individually and directly, that often serves as a motivating factor to go out and vote,” he said.

As for calls to replace or abolish ICE, Garcia couldn’t say if that is an issue motivating Latino voters. There’s obviously anger and frustration associated with the agency, but calling for an agency overhaul may not be as successful a strategy as speaking out against family separations at the border — a policy that was pretty much universally criticized, he said.

Civic engagement group One Arizona, which was formed after the fight over controversial SB 1070, is working to register new Latino voters ahead of the upcoming elections.

The group has registered about 50,000 new voters so far this year, said Montserrat Arredondo, One Arizona’s executive director.

Immigration issues come up when talking to voters, but even months after the “Red for Ed” teachers strike, education is the top issue for most Latino voters One Arizona has talked to, Arredondo said.

“The candidates that are talking about education and the candidates that are talking about keeping families together are speaking to what we’re hearing from the community,” she said.

GOP lawmakers have ‘both barrels’ aimed at Tucson over sanctuary measure

Three GOP lawmakers are preparing legislation to punish the city of Tucson, shown here in an aerial view, if voters pass a ballot measure to make the city a sanctuary for illegal immigrants. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Three GOP lawmakers are preparing legislation to punish the city of Tucson, shown here in an aerial view, if voters pass a ballot measure to make the city a sanctuary for illegal immigrants. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

The ballots that landed in Tucson mailboxes contain routine political questions such as who’s the best candidate for this race? And, should elected officials get raises? But there was one philosophical question: Is taking a stand against federal immigration practices worth promised retribution from state lawmakers?

Tucson’s entirely Democratic slate of city leaders, who individually oppose the city’s sanctuary city ballot measure, say it’s not worth the risk. But as the November 5 election date draws closer, a trio of Republican legislators have pledged to make Tucson and any city that passes a sanctuary ordinance pay.

Reps. Bret Roberts, John Kavanagh and Jay Lawrence each plan to introduce bills next session to strengthen state laws against sanctuary cities and punish any locality that does pass a policy prohibiting police from asking about a person’s immigration status or working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Bret Roberts
Bret Roberts

Roberts, a freshman lawmaker from Maricopa, said he hopes Tucson voters think of his proposed legislation as they vote.  He announced shortly after supporters of a sanctuary measure gathered enough signatures to send the issue to the ballot that he plans to introduce a bill that would let victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants sue the city of Tucson.

“I hope it does dissuade them,” Roberts said. “However, that won’t dissuade me in continuing with the legislation if [the ballot measure] fails. We have current statute in place, but obviously it wasn’t enough.”

The measure

So-called sanctuary cities have policies in place blocking local law enforcement officials from enforcing federal immigration law. These policies differ from city to city and state to state, but common themes include preventing local police from arresting or detaining people solely based on immigration detainees or asking witnesses, victims or suspects in crimes about their immigration status.

No Arizona cities are currently sanctuary cities. Several years ago, the Tucson Police Department began following a policy that prohibits officers from asking witnesses or victims about their immigration status.

This year’s Tucson Proposition 205 would also prohibit officers from investigating the immigration status of anyone arrested in a school, hospital, church or state or local court building. And it would require that any officer who investigates whether a detainee is legally in the country first provide two reasons for that suspicion, without considering factors that include the detainee’s name, ethnicity, ability to speak English, accent or presence in an overcrowded car or known hangout of undocumented immigrants.

The measure also prohibits the city of Tucson from working with any federal law enforcement agency unless that agency signs a memorandum agreeing not to enforce federal immigration law within the city.

John Kavanagh
John Kavanagh

Kavanagh and others contend state law already prohibits Tucson or any other local jurisdiction from becoming a sanctuary city. The first section of SB1070, the state’s controversial 2010 immigration law, states that no counties, cities or towns may adopt policies limiting or restricting the enforcement of federal immigration laws, and that law enforcement officials must attempt to determine an arrestee’s immigration status if they have reason to suspect the person is not in the country legally.

While much of SB1070 has been overturned by court order or rolled back as part of a legal settlement, those clauses remain in effect.

“I’m hoping that Tucson voters, knowing that they would be breaking state law, vote against it,” Kavanagh said. “The bottom line is this is a violation of state law.”

The bills

Legislation planned by Roberts, Kavanagh and Lawrence moves beyond the ban on sanctuary cities in SB1070.

As written, Roberts’ bill would make sanctuary cities civilly liable for crimes committed by undocumented immigrants who are sentenced to 1 year or more in prison.

“The purpose is to provide a clear civil path to have the victim or their family members be able to hold that entity liable — in other words, to go back and sue them civilly,” Roberts said.

It also would add language to state statute clarifying that sheriffs have the authority to cooperate with ICE, because Roberts said he’s heard conflicting reports from federal and local law enforcement officials about whether sheriffs’ deputies and ICE officers can work together.

He said the bill will provide leeway on when local law enforcement agencies must contact federal immigration officials.

“I would prefer not to dictate to a police agency how they do their job when they’re in the middle of an investigation,” Roberts said. “My intention is that when they are in custody, (arresting agencies) need to be doing what they need to do and communicating with federal agencies.”

Kavanagh’s proposal, similarly, creates civil liability for cities like Tucson if local police do not contact ICE or detain an undocumented immigrant who goes on to be convicted of a felony.

“This is about compensating victims of Tucson’s actions,” he said.

lawrenceLawrence’s proposed bill would bar cities and counties from passing or enforcing any policies that prohibit immigration enforcement and “further stop cities and towns in Arizona from ignoring their obligation to enforce immigration laws” according to a press release. He has not returned phone calls seeking more information about details of the planned legislation.

The consequences

These planned bills come as no surprise to Tucson city leaders, who anticipate a prompt lawsuit and the potential loss of millions of dollars if the sanctuary measure passes, Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik said. He described Kavanagh and lawmakers who have pledged to support such legislation as the “usual suspects” eager to punish the city of Tucson — even though the city’s elected councilors and mayor all oppose the measure.

“I’m not surprised that they’ve already got both barrels loaded and aimed at Tucson,” Kozachik said. “I would hope that these geniuses in the Legislature understand that we’re not moving this thing, the voters are moving it.”

Even without the planned legislation from Roberts, Kavanagh and Lawrence, lawmakers have recourse to financially penalize cities for passing policies that conflict with state law. A 2016 law allows any lawmaker to ask the Attorney General’s Office to investigate whether a city action conflicts with state law, and if it does, the city can lose its state shared revenue.

Tucson gets about $135 million annually in state shared revenue, and that makes up about a quarter of the city’s general fund, Kozachik said.

And the sanctuary city measure will certainly result in a lawsuit, Kozachik said.

“If it is adopted by the voters, I fully expect to be sued by the state, and when we lose, because we’ll lose with the Ducey-packed Supreme Court, we’ll have to take it back to the voters to rescind it,” he said.

Sen. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson, supports the sanctuary city initiative. But she said she understood where city councilors stand.

“If I was on the city council or the county supervisors, I would make the same decision: ‘I’m not touching this because I know those people up there in the Legislature. They’re crazy, they’ll come after our money,’” Steele said. “And they will. They absolutely will.”

She said supporters of the initiative are holding out hope that the decision coming from Tucson voters, instead of through a city-enacted ordinance, will prevent lawmakers from financially punishing the city.

“I know that this initiative was written so it’s not the city leaders that are doing this,” she said. “It’s the voters. It’s the people.”

ICE to focus on businesses that hire undocumented immigrants

Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, speaks after a Heritage Foundation presentation at which he said his agency would focus on businesses that knowingly employ undocumented workers. (Photo by Andrew Nicla/Cronkite News)
Thomas Homan, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, speaks after a Heritage Foundation presentation at which he said his agency would focus on businesses that knowingly employ undocumented workers. (Photo by Andrew Nicla/Cronkite News)

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement plans to boost its efforts targeting businesses by “four to five times” and will prosecute employers who knowingly hire illegal workers, the acting director of the agency said October 17.

Thomas Homan said the goal of the new policy is to cut off the supply of jobs that will keep people coming here illegally “as long as they come and get a job.”

An Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry spokesman said business leaders are willing to comply with the enforcement program, but cautioned against the administration taking a “hostile” approach with business owners.

Arizona employers are already required to use E-Verify to check a job applicant’s citizenship status, a policy Homan said he would like to see extended nationwide.

Homan’s comments came during a speech at the Heritage Foundation, where he criticized sanctuary cities and defended ICE’s practices of deporting immigrants who are suspected gang members, and arresting them near schools, hospitals, courthouses and other areas that have been off-limits in the past.

Homan stressed that except for immigrants who currently enjoy DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, protection, “nobody is off the table.” He said he hopes to send a message to those breaking the law that “we’re no longer going to turn our heads, we’re going to enforce the laws on the books.”

ICE was one of the federal immigration enforcement agencies that collaborated on an immigration policy priority wish-list released last week by the White House. Among the more than 70 items on the list is a call for employers nationwide to be required to use E-Verify.

Use of E-Verify, a federal database that helps employers determine the citizenship status of job applicants, was one of the immigration pledges made by President Donald Trump during his campaign. The administration included a request for $131.5 million in the budget for upgrades to E-Verify, with an eye toward pushing it nationwide in three year.

Arizona has long required employers to use E-Verify when making a hire. Despite doubts early on, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry spokesman Garrick Taylor said deployment of the program to state workplaces went smoothly, but he is not sure a nationwide implementation would be as easy.

Taylor said that if there are employers “knowingly hiring folks without work authorization, they ought to be punished.” But if federal law does require businesses to use the program, he said he hopes the rollout would be done in partnership with employers.

“We would hope that there’s a desire from the administration to work with employers so that employers know exactly what the rules of the road are, how you use E-Verify, and what all that entails,” Taylor said.

But immigration advocates said authorities should think twice before making E-Verify mandatory nationwide.

Immigrants are needed to fill manual labor jobs that Americans may not be willing to take, said Petra Falcon, executive director of the Latino voter outreach organization Promise Arizona. Rather than deporting them outright, Falcon said the government should work with employers to find a solution to keep them here.

“We know that they’re here, we’re inviting them to come and work in the fields, in construction, in this economy and yet they’re not invited to receive the benefits of doing that in this country,” Falcon said.

Falcon said she is disappointed but not surprised by the agency’s decision to ramp up workplace enforcement and said it is in step with the Trump administration’s rhetoric of “targeting the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Illegal immigration cost far too great for Arizona

In this June 23, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump tours a section of the border wall in San Luis, Ariz. During his 2016 primary run, Trump sought to mark his ground as a hard-line immigration enforcer who would build “a great, great wall on our southern border.” Nearly four years later, Trump still has work to do completing his wall and much that has been completed has been paid by U.S. taxpayers despite promises otherwise. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
In this June 23, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump tours a section of the border wall in San Luis, Ariz. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Illegal immigration comes with a high price, and Arizona taxpayers are tired of paying it.

For many years, the federal government failed to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. Our elected officials in Washington downplayed the threat posed by illegal immigration until the problem became too big to sweep under the rug.

According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, taxpayers shell out around $132 billion per year, across all levels of government, to pay for a long list of social programs and government services that are currently available people living in the country illegally.

Despite this astronomical figure, some politicians believe taxpayers should be forced to shell out even more money for people living in the country illegally than we do already. They argue, for instance, that it’s the government’s responsibility to provide free health care and education for people residing in this country illegally. In a perfect world where everything was free, those impulses would probably be commendable — after all, they come from a place of good intentions. In reality, though, there is no such thing as a free lunch, much less a free doctor visit or a free textbook. In the end, taxpayers always have to foot the bill for government expenditures — and that bill is ballooning out of control.

According to FAIR, people living here illegally are “at least three times more likely to be incarcerated than citizens and legal immigrants.”

Art Del Cueto
Art Del Cueto

Every single year, people living here illegally commit thousands of violent crimes across America — crimes that would not take place if our country was protected by a secure border and well-crafted immigration system. As a result, governments have to invest our tax dollars in law enforcement to protect communities that have been infiltrated by international criminal organizations. Likewise, states must pay for the incarceration of criminals who are living her illegally, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars per year for each inmate. According to a 2017 report, Arizona sheriff’s departments spent $335 million between 2009 and 2016 incarcerating people who are residing her illegally and convicted of breaking state and local laws.

Despite all of these challenges, however, our country is currently on the right track to fix our immigration system and secure the border.

For the past four years, the Trump administration has made it a priority to reduce illegal immigration, erect new and improved barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, and deport criminals who are living here illegally in an effort to protect border states such as Arizona.

During a recent campaign rally, President Trump revealed that under his watch, the federal government has deported about 20,000 gang members, including many belonging to the bloodthirsty MS-13 gang.

“We’ve now deported over a half a million criminal illegal aliens,” the President said, highlighting the fact the White House has made it harder for criminals to enter and remain in our country illegally.

This summer, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement began a nationwide operation to hunt down people who are living here without legal permission who have been charged and convicted of crimes involving victims, such as domestic violence and assault. In September, the agency announced the arrests of dozens of criminals who had been residing in Arizona illegally.

Turning a blind eye to illegal immigration doesn’t come cheap, and Arizona taxpayers have been forced to subsidize our broken immigration system for far too long. For the sake of law-abiding, tax-paying citizens, we must remain committed to securing the border and not allow our recent successes to lull us into a false sense of complacency.

Art Del Cueto is Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council.

Tucson’s rebuke to the ‘sanctuary’ movement speaks volumes


Tucson’s resounding rejection of an activist-led push for “sanctuary” policies is a welcome sign that sanity can still prevail even in an age of growing extremism.

Proposition 205, the latest and most brazen attempt to frustrate the enforcement of federal immigration law, went down in flames November 5. This was a complete reversal after years of increasing momentum for the open borders lobby, which has successfully pressured cities, counties, and even entire states to adopt “sanctuary” policies that prohibit law enforcement from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Jan Brewer (Photo by Gage Skidmore)
Jan Brewer (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

The measure that Tucsonans rejected by a 2-1 margin was similar to the sanctuary policies implemented elsewhere, but it went further in both style and substance. Officially titled “Tucson Families Free and Together,” Proposition 205 branded the concept of Tucson police and city officials working with federal agents as “collaboration,” as though the federal government were an occupying army. Even working with the feds on normal criminal investigations would require a memorandum explicitly stating that immigration laws would not be enforced at any point. It would even have allowed just about anyone to sue the city of Tucson if any official tried to enforce immigration law.

All sanctuary laws are explicitly designed to defy federal law, but Proposition 205 also ran counter to Arizona’s own laws, urging police to disregard their authority and responsibility under state law to determine the immigration status of individuals they detain in the course of their normal duties.

When I was governor, state lawmakers and I saw this type of ploy coming. I signed legislation specifically to stop the spread of sanctuary cities, stating, “No official or agency of this state or a county, city, town, or other political subdivision of this state may adopt a policy that limits or restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.”

Tucsonans rejected Proposition 205 decisively. That vote was more than symbolic – it indicates several concrete facts about the state of play in the immigration debate.

First, that sort of result doesn’t come from mere partisan turnout. Tucson is a solidly Democratic city. The mayor is a Democrat. Every member of the City Council is a Democrat. All three of Tucson’s U.S. representatives are Democrats. And yet, on the same day that 55% of Tucson voters elected yet another Democratic mayor, 71% of them voted against Proposition 205.

Fundamentally, support for sanctuary policies does not come from voters; it comes from far-left open-borders activists. Polls consistently show that Americans – even Democrats – overwhelmingly oppose sanctuary policies and believe local law enforcement should allow the federal government to deport criminals and arrestees if they are in the country illegally.

Second, the vote in Tucson shows that strong leadership at higher levels of government can help prevent activists from sneaking their extremist policies through at the local level. Part of the reason that Tucson’s Democratic mayor came out strongly against Prop. 205 is that he knew his city stood to lose more than $100 million of state money – and millions of dollars more in federal grants under the Trump Justice Department’s new directives – if the measure passed.

Pressure works, especially when money is involved. There is no reason liberal cities should be allowed to burden their states and the country as a whole with the costs of their refusal to uphold the law. Democratic politicians have to know that if they “collaborate” with the open borders activists, there will be a steep price to pay.

That’s why I fought for anti-sanctuary policies in Arizona, and it’s also why President Trump instructed his Justice Department to withhold grant money from sanctuary cities – those policies work.

Tucson voters dealt the sanctuary movement a crippling blow, proving that the will of the people can still prevail over the machinations of radical activists.

Jan Brewer is a former governor of Arizona.