Earth Notes
2:29 am
Thu March 30, 2006

Border Radar

Phoenix, AZ – On Tuesday the House voted to spend $50 million to buy
or lease a ground radar system. That vote on the
Republican proposal came over the objections of several
Democrats who said it is wrong to use state tax dollars
on something that should be a federal responsibility.
But Napolitano said Wednesday she sees the issue from a
somewhat different perspective.

(In an ideal world, we wouldn't be. But we already are,
to the extent people cross illegally and commit a state
law crime and are incarcerated in our state prisons, we
pay for that. We pay for a lot of law enforcement down
on the border for crimes related to illegal
immigration.)

This isn't the first time that the governor has found
herself at odds with Democratic lawmakers over border
and immigration issues. She has supported expanding
both the number of National Guard troops along the
border as well as their role. And she has endorsed the
idea of penalizing companies that hire undocumented
workers. That divergence of views has not gone
unnoticed by legislators like Sen. Jorge Garcia.

(Rightfully or wrongly, she's pandering to the
majority. And we have three bishops coming next Tuesday
to pray for her.)

Rep. Pete Rios said the governor's position on these
issues is not surprising given the realities of Arizona
politics. He pointed out that Republicans outnumber
Democrats in Arizona by about 152,000 out of some 2.6
million registered voters. And that means a Democrat
has to try to get some GOP support to get elected to
statewide office. Rios said he can't condemn her for
her stance.

(The governor, as I am, as other legislators are, we're
political animals. We understand what it is that gets
us here. We understand the things we have to do to stay
here.)

Pollster Earl de Berge said Napolitano's position on
these border and immigration issues puts her in line
with those of most Arizonans.

(I think there's just broad consensus across both
parties and amongst independents for the notion that,
hey, we should do what we can to stop the flow of
illegal people, short of Berlin Wall kind of thing.)

And de Berge said people do understand that it really
is the responsibility of the federal government to
secure the border. But he said Napolitano realizes that
does not provide an excuse for the state to do nothing.

(She's got constituents across the southern region of
the state who have made it pretty clear that things are
happening to them, their land and their property that
they feel they have a right to be protected from.)

And that constituency is important: Napolitano's narrow
victory four years ago was secured with a strong
showing in the region, helping her offset the edge that
Republican Matt Salmon got in much of the rest of the
state. Gubernatorial press aide Jeanine L'Ecuyer said
Napolitano's stance is not partisan -- and not
political. And Phil Lopes, the House Democratic leader,
said he doesn't know whether the governor is taking
positions on border issues to help get reelected.

(I've tried to figure out from her when it is she's
doing things for purposes of reelection and for other
purposes. So I can't figure it out. I can't answer that
question for you.)

But Democratic Representative Ted Downing said he's not
concerned that he and his colleagues are on one side of
the issue and the governor is on the other. He said it
shows the health of the Democratic party. In Phoenix,
for Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.