Voters in his Phoenix-area district have recalled Sen. Russell Pearce (R-Mesa, Ariz.), the Arizona senate president who wrote and successfully passed Senate Bill 1070. The state law made unauthorized immigration a criminal offense at the state level, allowing police to stop people suspected of being an illegal immigrant, and demand proof of their legal status. Though currently tied up in the courts, it spurred other states — notably Alabama and Georgia — to pass enforcement-only laws on their own.
Pearce was defeated by fellow Republican Jerry Lewis, a charter school executive and first-time office-seeker, who advocated for a milder tone. “Certainly the immigration issue is important to many people including myself,” Lewis was quoted as saying. “We need to bring a civil tone to that discussion, a professional approach to solving it, an approach that is reasonable and won’t be … in the courts for years to come.”
That’s exactly the approach endorsed by ImmigrationWorks USA, a coalition of businesses advocating for comprehensive immigration reform. The comprehensive approach includes enforcement, but it also provides for a reliable workforce for American industries, including the nursery buisness.
Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA, issued a statement (PDF) saying that Pearce’s defeat was the result of his extreme views and Draconian policy preferences on immigration. “Demagoguing immigrants looks like a sure vote-getter,” she said. “But as Russell Pearce just proved, it’s not. Many Americans are anxious about the economy, they’re troubled by change. But as Arizona made clear yesterday, they don’t like the sound of hate.”