Pres. Pearce’s Letter to Chamber of Commerce President
Thank you for your letter of March 14th and your willingness to dialogue on the issues that face our great state. We have many areas of agreement and a few areas of profound disagreement, but I believe our disagreement is more a result of our responsibilities than any ideology. Like you I love Arizona and America.
Many of you are CEO’s or are in senior management positions of major corporations. Your responsibilities are to your shareholders and your employees. As a State Senator from Legislative District 18 my responsibilities are to the people of my district, the Constitution and the law. As the President of Arizona’s State Senate my responsibilities are to the people of this great state and to the men and women who serve with me in this body.
From your position, and as you articulated in your letter, your concerns deal with practical and almost entirely fiscal concerns. From your desire to focus on Arizona’s structural deficit and economic environment, to lamenting the costs your companies suffered–ostensibly as a result of boycotts against our state resulting from legislation passed in previous years.
Of course the job of an elected official is neatly and adequate defined by an oath of office that we take, in a practice that certainly does not exist in your own professions. Before we can begin to serve in this capacity, we pledge that we:
“do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Arizona; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and defend them against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office of State Senator according to the best of my ability, so help me God.”
As you can tell, it is a much broader fiduciary responsibility that we are tasked with.
As mentioned before, the good news is that we have several areas that we do agree on. We all agree that Arizona must address its structural deficit and insure a strong economic environment. Your letter gives the sense that we only have time to accomplish these tasks if we are not side-tracked by efforts to deal with illegal immigration, but as the already completed passage of the Jobs Bill shows (which included the largest tax cuts in state history), your Legislature is capable of making progress on multiple fronts at the same time. We are also hard at work on producing a real balanced budget that, for the first time in far too many years, will not rely on gimmicks or gadgets to balance. We are all as excited as you are about that and the important signals it sends to the job creators among us.
Demands on our respective time makes it all but impossible for me to address, in this letter, the folly of sacrificing our state’s sovereignty or of waiting for the federal government to act on a matter that they have refused to take serious action on for so many years, particularly when the President and his cabinet members have made it clear that the steps they prefer would only serve to make the problem worse. And you are likely already aware that Arizona has inherent authority and responsibility to enforce immigration laws — the states have never been pre-empted from enforcement of immigration laws, it has always been a joint responsibility.
But time does allow, and it is important to realize that, contrary to the claim in your letter, Arizona is not going it alone. Nearly half of the states in this great nation are now debating legislation that mirrors our SB1070. More than a dozen states are currently debating legislation that would prompt the Supreme Court to reaffirm the original and proper intent of the 14th Amendment. We are most definitely not alone.
The end of your letter also offers a false choice between proceeding with our own legislation OR pressing the federal government for meaningful reform. In fact, we have been pressing for meaningful reform (enforcement) for years, and we have been ignored. Doing what we can here to deal with problems while also pressing the Federal Government is the very definition of “doing all that we can.”
Your letter gives the sense that the Legislature has been doing well on this topic but that we have finally gone too far, thus necessitating a call from the business community to leave well enough alone and let the federal government handle it from here. Yet as I look at the names and signatures on the letter I do not recognize anyone who has supported any of the efforts we have made over the last nearly ten years. I do see names of those who have opposed many of the efforts we have made. If we are to be honest with each other, and we must, there are many among you who have long fought against each and every effort we have made to deal with the epic problems we face, and your call to cease and desist is neither new nor the result of any recent activity or impact.
Yet look at the progress that Arizona has made as a result of the steps we have taken. Since we have begun tackling these problems — getting Americans back to work, stopping the abuse of our welfare system, demanding our laws be enforced, and proving that Attrition by Enforcement actually works:
· We have had between 100,000 and 200,000 illegal aliens leave the state voluntarily — that means jobs for Americans and a huge reduction in costs to Arizona taxpayers.
· We have had a reduction in violent crime of over 3 times the national average.
· For the first time in state history we have a declining prison population and similar declines in our county jail populations, saving millions of dollars while creating safer neighborhoods.
· We have saved over $400 million in K-12 spending because of declining enrollment, and those savings do not yet include the 2010 numbers.
In spite of the progress made, our work is not yet done. Please allow me to bring to the attention of some of my constituents (all of you), the concerns and suffering of so many of my other constituents:
· We still spend $2.7 Billion annually to educate, medicate and incarcerate our illegal population – remember those numbers when you lament cuts we must make to state services as a result of our budget deficit.
· We are dealing with beheadings in Chandler and contract killings in Casa Grande.
· 12 brave Phoenix Police officers have been killed or maimed by illegal aliens, as well as Robert Krentz, Agent Brian Terry, DPS Officer Martin, etc.
· Countless citizens have also been killed or maimed by illegal aliens.
· There are thousands of shattered lives left behind after unspeakable rapes, kidnappings, assaults, and other violent crimes being committed by illegal aliens.
· Thousands of law-abiding, hard-working Arizonans (and their families) are unable to find work because they cannot compete in labor markets that have been undercut by illegal labor
· And much, much more…
Can you imagine how impressive a letter signed by all of those people would be? The media would never report on it, but you can be sure that their letter would implore me to take my oath of office seriously and my moral responsibility seriously and to do everything within my power to protect our people and uphold our laws.
Nor are you the only business owners I hear from. I hear regularly from hundreds of business owners who struggle to compete against competitors who gain an unfair advantage by employing those here illegally. It distorts the marketplace and punishes good people while rewarding cheats and criminals. I assume that we can all agree that this is not a just or healthy process or outcome, and those who are breaking the law should be punished for it.
You will understand that my oath of office, as well as my love for this state and its people, means that I may not and will not ignore the damages resulting from illegal immigration. I must also fulfill my duty to the lawful citizens and residents of this great state who have a Constitutional right to protection from those who break our laws.
Which brings us to the trickiest part of being a legislator — finding the compromise that allows the most progress to be made for everyone. I have no doubt that we will pass many of the bills we have been debating, although I am certain that each will be adjusted in some manner to address the concerns that you, other groups and individuals, and other legislators have. For that reason, it is important that you and everyone else stays involved and remains vocal.
Constructive advice/criticism is fine with me and it will always be welcome. But we need to have agreement from the outset that our goal is a strong state, with a strong economy, with proper respect for the rule of law, and a genuine commitment to protecting the lives, jobs, and long-term well-being of every Arizonan person and company.
So let us recommit to doing everything that we can for Arizona and its law-abiding people and businesses.
Let us pledge to remain in contact and to keep the lines of communication open. Let us rededicate ourselves to being responsible in our choice of words and in our use of rhetoric.
Then, we can and most certainly will get results.
Please distribute copies of this letter to all the businesses that signed the Chamber’s letter.
President of the Senate