Monday, March 14, 2011

Why Is This Man Smiling?

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne leaves the grounds of the state capitol in Phoenix escorted by immigrants’ rights activists who heckled the AG the whole time he was at the capitol Monday. 
Immigrants’ rights activists have been at the capitol for weeks protesting against the anti-immigrant bills being put forward by the state’s Tea Party influenced GOP legislators. One of the bills would require hospitals to verify the immigration status of patients checking in for elective care. Another would turn school officials into ICE agents because it would require schools to verify the residency status of their students,  including home schooled children. Another would result in arrest and impoundment of the car for undocumented drivers in Arizona even if they have a driver’s licence from another state. (Arizona does not issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, but some states, like New Mexico, do.) 
Horne has been a target of the immigrants’ rights activists since he authored legislation outlawing ethnic studies programs during his time as Arizona’s education superintendent. It’s not clear why he came to the capitol Monday (his office is about three blocks east of the capitol complex). Certainly as AG he does a lot of business at the capitol, but on Monday he didn’t go into any of the buildings or meet with legislators. He walked from the parking lot into the crowd, who started heckling him as soon as they saw him, around the plaza between the buildings and back to his car (a Jaguar in case anyone is wondering). It’s almost as though he did it just to rile up the crowd. 
UPDATE 3/18: The State Senate defeated all of the anti-immigrant bills during their session Thursday. This means the Republicans defeated them since the Democratic minority is too small to defeat or block legislation. The GOP change in heart apparently came after the Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the Senate saying, essentially, enough is enough. Immigration is a distraction and causing a lot of anti-Arizona backlash in other states. Get on to job creation. They seem to have listened.