Arizona immigration law focus of new Vander Plaats ad

Bob Vander Plaats’ first television commercial didn’t mention his Republican rivals in the governor’s race, but a new commercial released today draws distinctions on immigration:

Rough transcript:

Voice-over: Only one candidate for governor supports Arizona’s tough illegal immigration law: Bob Vander Plaats (visual shows Des Moines Sunday Register headline, “Immigration divides GOP trio: 2 candidates say it’s a federal issue; Vander Plaats endorses Arizona law”)

Vander Plaats speaking to camera: Chet Culver and Terry Branstad want to wait for the federal government to do something about illegal immigration. We’ve waited long enough. I’m tired of relying on the federal government and getting no results. As governor, I’ll give our state and local law enforcement the authority to enforce immigration laws. It’s not just common sense; it’s the right thing to do.

The Republican candidates sparred on the immigration issue during the second gubernatorial debate a few weeks ago. All three candidates engaged in misleading and disgraceful pandering. It’s sad that Vander Plaats embraces the Arizona approach. Not only does the new law encroach on civil liberties, it would be very expensive for local governments to implement. Vander Plaats denies the obvious costs that would accompany this kind of law.

This commercial looks like a “hail Mary” pass to me. I understand why Vander Plaats would want to go negative, but criticizing Branstad’s record as governor, as he did during the third gubernatorial debate, would be more honorable than scoring points on the Arizona law. Maybe their internal polling suggests immigration is a salient issue for the Republican base.

This commercial evokes the usual mixed feelings I have when I think about the Republican primary. Part of me would like to see Vander Plaats win the nomination, because I believe Culver would easily beat him. The other part of me wants Vander Plaats and his ill-informed demagoguery to be irrelevant to Iowa politics after June 8.  

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Reaction to the new Arizona immigration law

Arizona’s Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed a law yesterday that makes it “a state crime to be in the country illegally” and “requires local law enforcement to determine an individual’s immigration status if an officer suspects that person is in the country illegally.” Civil rights groups are already preparing federal lawsuits, and President Barack Obama called the bill “misguided”, adding, “I’ve instructed members of my admininstration to closely monitor the situation and examine the civil rights and other implications of this legislation.”

The American Civil Liberties Union explained why we should be outraged about this law:

The law creates new immigration crimes and penalties inconsistent with those in federal law, asserts sweeping authority to detain and transport persons suspected of violating civil immigration laws and prohibits speech and other expressive activity by persons seeking work. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona strongly condemn the governor’s decision to sign the unconstitutional law and are dismayed by her disregard for the serious damage it could cause to civil liberties and public safety in the state.[…]

The new law, which will not go into effect for more than 90 days, requires police agencies across Arizona to investigate the immigration status of every person they come across whom they have “reasonable suspicion” to believe is in the country unlawfully. To avoid arrest, citizens and immigrants will effectively have to carry their “papers” at all times. The law also makes it a state crime for immigrants to willfully fail to register with the Department of Homeland Security and carry registration documents. It further curtails the free speech rights of day laborers and encourages unchecked information sharing between government agencies.

Naturally, conservatives who claim to be for small government love the expansion of police powers in Arizona.

Representative Raul Grijalva, one of the leaders of the House Progressive Caucus, closed his Arizona offices yesterday following threatening phone calls. Grijalva also “called on businesses and groups looking for convention and meeting locations to boycott Arizona.” Already yesterday the American Immigration Lawyers Association canceled plans to hold the group’s fall national convention in Scottsdale. A petition has been created to urge California’s state pension fund to “divest from all Arizona companies” and sell all Arizona real estate.

The law may never be enforced, depending on what happens with the federal lawsuits, but some people are predicting it will boost support for Democrats among Latino voters.

Share any relevant thoughts in this thread. For comic relief, I recommend reading the official statement from Arizona Hispanic Republicans. After criticizing the (Republican) state legislators who spearheaded the bill and the (Republican) governor who signed the bill, they say they are “ultimately holding President Obama accountable,” because “Obama promised Hispanics that he would pass immigration reform within 90 days of his Presidency.  Had Obama carried out his promises to Hispanics last year, the Hispanic community would not be experiencing the crisis we are experiencing right now.” That’s quite a creative way to misdirect blame.

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