Trump takes his first stab at a Muslim ban.
President Donald Trump rolled out his first executive orders on immigration last week, creating uproar both around the globe (with his temporary halt to refugee programs and travel bans on visitors from seven predominantly Muslim nations) and right here in Southern Arizona (with his plans to build a wall and more prison facilities for undocumented immigrants as well as his threats to punish so-called "sanctuary cities.")
Trump ordered a 120-day halt to allowing any refugees to enter the United States and barred any citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen from entering the U.S.
Parts of the order were blocked by federal judges last weekend and the Trump administration backed off barring people with green cards from entering the U.S.
Southern Arizona congressional Democrats were quick to criticize Trump's move. Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ03) told The Skinny that the chaos that followed the release of the executive orders "called into question this government's ability to do its job and, more importantly, understand its own history. The whole administration right now looks chaotic and unhinged."
U.S. Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D-AZ01) said that Trump's "broad executive order banning refugees from entering our country fails to make America more secure. It ignores our real national security needs and has created chaos at our nation's airports."
"This executive order does not represent our nation's values," O'Halleran added in a prepared statement. "We can ensure refugees and immigrants coming into our country are properly vetted without violating our Constitution or the bedrock ideals of our democracy."
U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ02) told the Weekly via email that immigration "must be balanced with the foremost priority of the federal government—protecting the American people. I served on a congressional task force focused on combating ISIS that found very real and dangerous gaps in our vetting processes. Likewise, our own intelligence officials have expressed vulnerabilities with these processes, which is why taking a comprehensive look at them is prudent and should be expected of any new administration. However, I have concerns about certain individuals being denied entry, such as green card holders, those who served alongside our military, and partner military service members who train here, such as Iraqi pilots in Tucson."
Arizona's Republican senators were more critical of the moves, with Arizona Sen. John McCain joining with Sen. Lindsey Graham of North Carolina to say they feared that Trump's order "may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security."
"Our government has a responsibility to defend our borders, but we must do so in a way that makes us safer and upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation," McCain and Graham said. "It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump's executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security."
Both senators said Trump's order would block interpreters who put their lives at risk to work for the U.S. military in danger, as well as hurting refugees who had been vetted and "pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors, most of them women and children."
Trump fired back on Twitter: "The joint statement of former presidential candidates John McCain & Lindsey Graham is wrong—they are sadly weak on immigration. The two senators should focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III."
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican who was also a frequent critic of Trump during the campaign, also criticized the exec orders via a statement on the website Medium.
Flake wrote that "it's unacceptable when even legal permanent residents are being detained or turned away at airports and ports of entry. Enhancing long term national security requires that we have a clear-eyed view of radical Islamic terrorism without ascribing radical Islamic terrorist views to all Muslims."
Blockhead orders blocks on border
Speaking of Trump's executive orders: The Donald announced that the administration would soon start construction of his much-promised border wall, with a continued insistence that Mexico will someday pay for it. Exactly how that's supposed to happen is a mystery, but a trial balloon to create a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports crashed and burned (although congressional Republicans are kicking around a similar "border-adjustment tax" as part of a major overhaul of tax policy).
Trump also said the U.S. would build more detention facilities and vowed to crack down on so-called "sanctuary cities" that shield undocumented immigrants from federal authorities.
U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ02) cheered Trump's executive order in a statement to the press, calling it a "strong start in the right direction. They untie the hands of our Border Patrol Agents and allow them to do their jobs. They also mandate the release of regular border effectiveness data, which is critical to fully understanding the problem. When it comes to barriers, they are important where appropriate, but only part of the equation. What we need is a comprehensive strategy to grow situational awareness, build operational control, and dismantle the cartels and their networks."
McSally spokesman Patrick Ptak told The Skinny that McSally understands the importance of cross-border trade in Southern Arizona and had not yet decided whether to support a "border-adjustment" tax as a part of a larger GOP tax-reform plan.
Ptak added that McSally did not consider Tucson or South Tucson to be sanctuary cities that would be subject to financial penalties under Trump's executive order.
A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D-AZ01) said that the freshman Democrat opposed new taxes on Mexican imports because they would raise prices for Americans consumers. O'Halleran is also opposed to building a wall at the expense of U.S. taxpayers (he remains skeptical that Trump can force Mexico to pay for it) and believes a better proposal would be using more high-tech border surveillance rather than a physical barrier.
U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (R-AZ03) blasted the wall proposal, which he said could cost between $12 billion and $21 billion.
"I don't think it's necessary," Grijalva said. "I don't think it does anything for deterrence of unauthorized entry into this country. I think it's political symbolism, if that."
Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel airs Sunday afternoons at 5 p.m. on KXCI, 91.3 FM, and at 1 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. Sundays on KEVT, 1290 AM. This week's guests are Congressman Raul Grijalva and Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lea Marquez Peterson.