Author Of SB 1070 Says The U.S. Immigration System Isn't Broken

May 26, 2010 2:05 pm ET

During an interview on MSNBC, Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce and National Council of La Raza's Clarissa Martinez got into a discussion about the immigration changes in Arizona.  Sen. Pearce -- the chief proponent and author of SB 1070 -- insisted that not only do immigrants not respect the nation's laws but also that the immigration system in the United States isn't broken.

Despite Expressing Concern Over Immigration, Sen. Russell Pearce Doesn't Believe The U.S.  Immigration System Is Broken

Alex Witt, Host: Alright, let's get Clarissa Martinez's reaction to this. Clarissa, you, as a representative of La Raza, what are your thoughts on this? I mean, he's saying, basically, in a nut-shell, if you come to this country illegally, and you have a baby, that baby becomes legal, as born on US soil. I mean, there, is there anything you can see that would have others in arm, up, of, over that?

Clarissa Martinez, National Council of La Raza: Well, you know, I think, as a country, we are gonna have a problem with effectively creating a second class of citizens that live here and are always gonna be condemned to be in an underground...  

State Senator Russell Pearce (R-AZ): They're not citizens. 

Martinez: ...But the reality here is that what we are interested in is in fixing the broken immigration system. We're not interested in going after babies, or going after Latino US citizens, like Mr. Pearce is doing. 

[cross talk]

Witt: So Clarissa, how do you, how do you propose to do that? 

Martinez: In Arizona, in Arizona, 70% of Latinos oppose the immigration law because they know they're gonna get stopped by the police. 

Pearce: First of all, first of all, that's unfair and that's very dishonest. 

Witt: Wait, wait, Senator Pearce and Clarissa, I would like to know, Clarissa, you propose fixing the broken immigration system, Clarissa... 

Pearce: No, no, no. That's very dishonest, very dishonest. 

Witt: ...How do you propose to do that? What is La Raza's proposal? 

Martinez: Actually, there is a broad national consensus on this issue and even right now where you're seeing a number of people willing to go along with the Arizona law, in those very same polls, a larger number of people support immigration reform, and what that means... 

Pearce: No they don't.  

Martinez: that we need to layer border enforcement, worksite verification, in a means-in a means to require people currently in the country illegally to come forward, pay taxes, and get good with the law. If you don't do all those things you cannot fix the system and Mr. Pearce knows it but he's made a career of doing this kind of legislation, which he knows doesn't fix the problem. 

Pearce: No, absolutely not true. You know first of all, race -- illegals -- first of all, illegal's not a race, it's a crime. It's -- and Arizona didn't make illegal, illegal. And let's ignore the damage to America. These are open-border anarchists. La Raza is simply a, a, a race-based organization that has no respect for the law in this country at all...

Martinez: Oh, Mr. Pearce. 

Pearce: No I'm tellin' ya, read their thing, read La Raza studies. I'm tired of this, ya know? Let's stand up for America and the rule of law. You can't break into my house, you can't break into my country. That's all we're trying to do.  

[cross talk] 

Martinez: We want a legal system that works. And we are working towards that legal system.  

Pearce: This codifies, 1070 codifies...No, they want amnesty, they want amnesty... 

Martinez: Absolutely not. 

Pearce: ...they don't want a legal system that works, they don't want the laws enforced at all. They've been opposed to any effort to enforce our laws since day one, I've battled with them forever. This is not about racism. It's about the rule of law and the United States.

Martinez: The laws you are introducing add greater chaos to the broken immigration system...

Pearce: It's not a broken immigration system

Martinez: I think that we have seen this in many other local jurisdictions where people have tried to pass their own laws.  

Pearce: We have great laws. We have great laws, we just need to enforce them.

Ms. Martinez Is Correct -- Americans Want Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Polling Shows That Americans Want To Allow Illegal Immigrants A Path To Legal Citizenship.  During a CNN/Opinion Research poll, Americans were asked:

Would you favor or oppose each of the following proposals:

Creating a program that would allow illegal immigrants already living in the United States for a  number of years to stay here and apply to legally remain in this country permanently if they had a job and paid back taxes

80%     Favor
19%     Oppose
1%       No opinion

Creating an ID card issued by the federal government that all U.S. citizens and legal immigrants would be required to show to an employer when applying for a job

70%     Favor
30%    Oppose
**        No opinion

[CNN/Opinion Research Poll, 5/21-23/2010]

Border Communities Are Safer Than Popularly Believed

Some Border Communities "Have Even Become Safer" In The Past Three Years.  The Los Angeles Times reported:

Despite the drug war that has claimed thousands of lives in Mexico, communities along the U.S. side of the 2,000-mile southern border have shown virtually no increase in crime for several years.

There are dozens of towns, counties and cities along the border and no single measure of crime along the whole frontier. But a review of crime statistics for the largest communities and interviews with law enforcement officials from Texas to California show that, despite a widespread perception that the violence in Mexico has spread north, U.S. border communities are fairly secure. Some have even become safer.

"It's not spilling over to our side of the border," said William Lansdowne, police chief in San Diego, where violent crime has dropped 8% in the last three years. "We police it really well." [Los Angeles Times, 5/13/10, emphasis added]

Crime Rate Has Dropped In Arizona -- And Across The U.S. -- "Since Immigrants Began Pouring" In.  According to the Los Angeles Times: "By many measures, Arizona has become safer since illegal immigrants began pouring into the state in the 1990s. Crime has dropped all across the country since then, but the decrease has been as fast or faster in Arizona. The rate of property crimes in the state, for example, has plummeted 43% since 1995, compared with 30% nationwide. That's no surprise to those who study immigration - both sides, whether for or against increased immigration, agree that immigrants tend to commit fewer crimes than native-born Americans." [Los Angeles Times, 5/3/10]

But If The Immigration System Isn't Broken, Why Did Pearce Think SB 1070 Was Necessary?

Sen. Pearce: We Are "Absolutely" Sending The Message That "Illegal Immigrants" Are "Not Welcome In Arizona."  According to the Seattle Times, "The chief sponsor of the legislation, state Sen. Russell Pearce, said he hoped the legislation, and other measures, would send the message to illegal immigrants that they were not welcome in Arizona. 'That absolutely is what we are doing here,' he said." [Seattle Times, 4/14/10]

Pearce: SB 1070 "Takes The Handcuffs Off Of Law Enforcement And Lets Them Do Their Job." According to the Los Angeles Times, "[SB 1070's] author, State Sen. Russell Pearce, said it simply 'takes the handcuffs off of law enforcement and lets them do their job.'" [Los Angeles Times, 4/13/10]

Pearce: Without "Federal Law Against Noncitizens...Citizens Are Denied Equal Protection." According to Time Magazine, "state senator Russell Pearce, a Republican, says his bill 'will not change a thing for lawful citizens...Our legal citizens have a constitutional right to expect protection of federal law against noncitizens. When those laws are not enforced, our citizens are denied equal protection." [Time, 4/16/10]

Pearce Cited "Violence" Along Arizona-Mexico Border As A Reason For SB 1070. According to a Time Magazine article about SB 1070, Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce said: "'Enough is enough,'...speaking about the increased violence along the Arizona border with Mexico. 'One family has been burglarized 18 times and a number of officers have been killed and maimed in the line of duty dealing with illegal immigrants who are criminals.'" [Time, 4/16/10]

Pearce: "Illegal Aliens Should Find Another State Besides Arizona To Visit." According to Time Magazine, State Sen. Russell Pearce said, "Our message is very clear...Illegal aliens should find another state besides Arizona to visit." [Time, 4/16/10]

Pearce's Personal Experience With Immigration

AZ Sen. Pearce: "I Will Not Back Off Until We Solve The Problem Of This Illegal Invasion... Invaders, That's What They Are."  According to NPR, Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce said: "I will not back off until we solve the problem of this illegal invasion...Invaders, that's what they are. Invaders on the American sovereignty and it can't be tolerated." [NPR, 3/12/08]

Pearce Supported Legislation That "Restricted Illegal Immigrants' Access To State Services" And "May Introduce Legislation To Challenge The 14th Amendment To The Constitution."  NPR reported: "As the chairman of the Arizona House Appropriations Committee, [Sen. Russell Pearce] is in a choice position to try to push through the laws that he sees fit. He co-wrote Prop 200, which restricted illegal immigrants' access to state services and sponsored Arizona's employer sanction law, which suspends or revokes business licenses if employers knowingly hire illegal immigrants. He also says he may introduce legislation to challenge the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, meaning a child born in the U.S. would no longer automatically become a citizen." [NPR, 3/12/08]

Pearce Shot By "Gang Member"; Son Shot By "An Illegal Immigrant."  According to NPR: "Pearce's single-minded dedication to the issue of illegal immigration may have to do with his personal history, some of his colleagues say. As a cop Pearce was shot in the chest and finger by a gang member. Three years ago, his son, also a sheriff's deputy, was severely wounded by a criminal who happened to be an illegal immigrant. 'Did it cause for some recommitment? I suspect I had some influence there,' he says."  [NPR, 3/12/08]

Pearce: Arizonans' Problems With Immigrants Is "Because The Culture Is Different."  NPR reported: "Pearce claims illegal immigrants are responsible for much of Arizona's crime and he admits to feeling uncomfortable with the way society is changing in Arizona. He attributes it partly to Mexicans' and Central Americans' 'way of doing business.' 'Drive around parts of Phoenix. I get calls all the time and it's not that they're Hispanic, it's because the culture is different. The gangs are bigger. There's more violence, kidnappings are way up,' he says." [NPR, 3/12/08]

Pearce Forwarded Article Proclaiming White Supremacy And Holocaust Denial.  Arizona Republic reported that Rep. Russell Pearce forwarded an article "titled 'Who Rules America? The Alien Grip on Our News and Entertainment Media Must Be Broken,' the article criticized the media for promoting multiculturalism and racial equality, for portraying 'any racially conscious White Person' as a bigot and for presenting the Jewish Holocaust as fact. The media presents a 'single view of the world - a world in which every voice proclaims the equality of the races, the inerrant nature of the Jewish 'Holocaust' tale, the wickedness of attempting to halt the flood of non-White aliens pouring across our borders, the danger of permitting citizens to keep and bear arms, the moral equivalence of all sexual orientations, and the desirability of a 'pluralistic,' cosmopolitan society rather than a homogeneous, White one,' the article says." [Arizona Republic, 10/10/06]

  • Pearce Denied Having Read The Article Before Sending It To Supporters. According to Arizona Republic: "Pearce said he sent the e-mail and the article to a few dozen supporters in his Mesa legislative district. The subject line of the e-mail implored supporters to put out yard signs and get people they know out to vote. He insists that he does not agree with the sentiments in the article, but that the title and the first paragraphs about media bias appealed to him. He said the article had been forwarded to him by someone else and he would not have sent it if he had read it in its entirety." [Arizona Republic, 10/10/06]