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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Journalists talk immigration

    Arizona representatives discussed their stances on the almost 50 immigration laws being proposed currently at the state Legislature in front of a room of journalists, students and faculty Friday.

    The discussion, “”When the Federal System Doesn’t Work: The Case of Arizona,”” was one of the final events of the four-day Learning Institute for Working Journalists’ Reporting on Immigration conference.

    Solutions to the issue of immigration were at times forgotten as the state representatives became consumed in arguing with each other, said Paul Cuadoror, a freelance journalist for Time magazine.

    “”There doesn’t seem to be any common ground, and I’m not sure how any state can find solutions when their representatives disagree so much,”” Cuadoror said.

    The panel comprised Reps. Ben Miranda, D-Phoenix; Ted Downing, D-Tucson; Jonathan Paton, R-Tucson; and Republican Timothy Bee, the Arizona Senate majority leader.

    Federal immigration should be handled at the federal level and by federal authorities, not by individual states and local law enforcement, Downing said.

    Downing also criticized Republican legislatures for creating a fear of Latinos and Mexican culture that can be compared to the growing Islamaphobia fostered by politicians.

    “”It’s either Islam or Aztlan, make up your mind,”” Downing said. “”These attacks are ridiculous.””

    There is a growing state of anarchy along the U.S.-Mexico border, and even Fort Huachuca, a major information hub for activities in Iraq, isn’t safe, said Paton.

    “”If you can’t secure a military installation, you can’t be sure you can keep anything else in southern Arizona secure,”” Paton said.

    Paton said that next year he will re-introduce a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to be held by police and border patrol in the interest of investigations to find those illegally transporting people into the U.S., a bill that didn’t make it out of the state Congress this year.

    Miranda said rather than finding a solution to immigration, the government has spent $519 billion on immigration programs that don’t work and that contribute to human tragedy along the border.

    “”Do we have an incentive to find immigration reform? I suggest we don’t,”” Miranda said.

    The expansion of radar systems to track people crossing the border, like those currently installed in Yuma, and employer sanctions to discourage hiring undocumented workers need to be put in place at the state level, Bee said.

    “”We understand it’s a federal issue, but the citizens of our state bare the cost, and we can’t allow them to suffer,”” Bee said.

    Joshua Norman, a journalist for the Sun Herald of Biloxi, Miss., said despite being an eye-opening and very emotional experience, the conference didn’t depict all sides of immigrant debate with the same favor.

    “”There’s obviously two sides to the debate,”” Norman said. “”The other side was certainly given a voice, though not as public a voice as the pro-immigrant side.””

    Other journalists disagreed and said the institute represented both sides of the debate very well.

    Journalists were taken to Mexico to see people as they prepared to cross the border as well as a Minuteman meeting to hear other opinions, said Alicia Caldwell, an Associated Press El Paso correspondent who attended the conference.

    “”I grew up in Arizona, I went to the UA, but the border is very different than when I was here,”” said Caldwell, an Arizona Daily Wildcat alumna. “”You can’t really put that into perspective until you see it.””

    Caldwell said the conference provided information and experiences not available anywhere else and that she hopes it will continue next year with more journalists attending and as a longer conference.

    “”To hear their issues and perspectives and then for me to be able to go back to Texas and report for a national audience is invaluable,”” Caldwell said.

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