Closing the Door
Gov. Doug Ducey doesn't want to live with refugees
As Republican governors across the country called for the government to stop resettling Syrian refugees in their states, Gov. Doug Ducey went a step further and called on the federal government to halt efforts to resettle any kind of refugees in Arizona.
"Given the horrifying events in Paris last week, I am calling for an immediate halt in the placement of any new refugees in Arizona," Ducey said in a prepared statement.
He demanded a consultation with federal authorities who run resettlement programs and called for new laws giving states more power to refuse to allow refugees within their borders.
Ducey said the Paris attacks "serve as a reminder that the world remains at war with radical Islamic terrorists. Our national leaders must react with the urgency and leadership that every American expects to protect our citizens."
Whether Ducey has much influence in this matter remains to be seen. The federal government, through the Office of Refugee Resettlement, decides where to place refugees after vetting them. But some Congressional Republicans were also pushing for new laws to block Syrian refugees and suggested attaching such legislation to budget bills, which could set the stage for a government shutdown next month.
Arizona has been one of the top states to accept refugees, with nearly 3,000 arriving in fiscal year 2014, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. There were only 15 from Syria but 967 from Iraq and 666 from Somalia.
Members of the Tucson City Council said they didn't agree with Ducey's decision to try to block any refugees from anywhere in the world.
"I hope the governor will work with federal authorities, who clearly share the priority of Homeland Security while they cooperate internationally to address the compelling, documented needs of people fleeing persecution and death in their countries of origin," Tucson City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich said.
Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild that "in America, we don't let fear close the door to families desperate to escape terror and war."
"Just two months ago, the world saw the body of a 3-year-old boy washed up on a Turkish beach," Rothschild said. "He, his mother and 5-year-old brother, all died trying to reach safety and freedom. We are an immigrant nation, founded by people fleeing persecution, and our Statue of Liberty—a gift from the people of France—bears an inscription of welcome. Our federal government will continue to screen those applying for asylum, as it has always done. Turning our back on the victims of terror would be a win for the terrorists, and a loss for our country."
Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik said Ducey was playing politics at the expense of poor and brutalized people who were trying to escape hellish conditions in other countries.
"It's nice of him to pander to the jingoistic fringe but it shows that he's out of touch with the reality of what we're dealing with in Tucson," Kozachik said.
Kozachik said he's still seeing many unaccompanied minors and families fleeing gang violence in Central America.
"We're not in a position to close our borders to these kids," said Kozachik, who added that sending the children back to their home countries amounted to a death sentence in some cases.
"Send them back to what?" he asked. "Send them back to conditions of gang violence and young girls being gang-raped by the cartels in Guatemala? That's a totally ignorant position to take and totally insensitive to the needs of these kids and these families."
U.S. Rep. McSally talks about bringing home the bacon to Southern Arizona but isn't sure how to pay for it
Congresswoman Martha McSally had plenty to brag about during her State of the District speech last week.
McSally talked about her work to save the A-10, her efforts to improve the ports of entry in Southern Arizona, her win in getting funding for the proposed Sonoran Corridor into a spending bill, her legislation to keep the Cherrybell postal center open, and her push to improve services for veterans.
In short, McSally is trying to deliver federal dollars to Southern Arizona. Even though she wants more federal spending on projects in her district, McSally said she remains concerned about the deficit.
"Sure, we have to reduce our deficit," McSally said. "We have to figure out bipartisan solutions that actually get our spending in order, continue to grow our economy and it shouldn't just be one-size-fits-all solutions."
But while she is willing to "sit down in a bipartisan way and figure out how to fund these projects," McSally remains opposed to "saddling job creators and small businesses" with higher taxes.
"'Let's just raise taxes'—that's the simple solution you often hear from the other side," McSally said. "Or do nothing. That's the other option."
McSally does support some efforts to raise revenues. She said she liked the idea of giving companies a special deal to bring more of their foreign profits back to the United States—a plan also support in concept by the White House. The proposal has stalled as members of Congress bicker over the details.
McSally said figuring out how to pay for government is not her specialty.
"I'm not on the Ways and Means Committee," McSally said. "It's not my day-in, day-out focus to be addressing these issues because I'm a national-security-focused person."
McSally also told the crowd that while she supports some form of comprehensive immigration reform, she doesn't see any chance of it happening in a presidential election year.
"I think the next window of opportunity is after the presidential election," McSally said. "I know people have been saying that for years and years and years, but from my perspective, it's going to take people doing the right thing and figuring it out, as opposed to be afraid of their own shadow or being concerned about things being taken out of context."
McSally, who has declined in several interviews with the Weekly to say where she stands on the best way to handle the estimated 12 million undocumented people now in the United States, said that she didn't have heartburn over the recent confidential agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to allow undocumented immigrant Rosa Robles Loreto to remain in the United States. Loreto left sanctuary at Southside Presbyterian Church after 15 months last week.
"ICE has a process that they go through to assess different cases that come before them," McSally said. "My focus is trying to solve deeper problems so we can actually solve the immigration issue so that we're not continually dealing with this on a case-by-case basis."
Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel airs Sundays at 8 a.m. on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on DirecTV, Dish and broadcast. This week encore episode features UA astronomy professor Chris Impey, who discusses his book Beyond: The Future In Space, and UA geoscience professor Andrew Cohen, who talks about his work drilling into the sediment in African lakebeds to learn more about the life of ancient man. The show can also be heard at 5 p.m. Sundays on KXCI, 91.3 FM.