The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

71° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Send us your upper-middle class, well-tanned masses?”

    They come to Arizona in droves, journeying through the desert seeking a better life. Most are unwilling to surrender their core beliefs to assimilate with the natives of their adopted homeland. If their immigration continues unchecked, their presence will alter the Grand Canyon State beyond recognition.

    I write, of course, of Californians. According to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, Arizona surged in population more than any other state last year, adding about 213,000 people. Half were newborns, 32,000 arrived from foreign countries, and 130,000 moved from another state.

    Californians were the largest contingent of interstate immigrants to Arizona, leaving the Golden State in search of a larger house, better job or cheaper education. I’m a recovering Californian, and I fall into the last category, having relocated from the beach to attend law school in Tucson. I believe there are inevitable barriers to a harmonious future relationship between Arizonans and the newcomers who might be called “”Calizonans.””

    Any out-of-state visitor to the Grand Canyon or Canyon Ranch learns at least one thing about Arizonans: There’s no love lost here for Californians, particularly Southern Californians. To some Arizonans, Southern California is like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from “”Ghostbusters””: trivial, yet capable of devouring everything in its path.

    Such beliefs were inconvenient in boom times, when the Calizonans’ hunger for affordable housing fueled Arizona’s economy. Though growth has recently slowed, one of three jobs in metropolitan Phoenix still relies on the housing sector, according to the Arizona Republic.

    Calizonans have no doubt created fortunes for contractors, car dealers and landscapers eager to serve the immigrant family, who, having sold their home in Pasadena for $800,000, are eager to spend. No doubt, fun can be found in fleecing consumers whose greatest skill was buying 20 years ago, then selling at the crest of the biggest real estate boom in world history.

    But if the slowdown of 2006 turns into a freefall in 2007, even those receptive to Calizonan money will wake up hungover and grumpy, in bed with a new sort of Calizonan, who is flush with cash but suddenly reluctant to plop down a lump sum in a declining market. This new breed of Calizonan will not be as welcome in Arizona as the one that came before.

    Arizona conservatives have fewer reasons than most to welcome the Calizonans. California is the original blue state, and the migration of its citizens to Arizona will continue the leftward lean already evident from the November election period.

    That’s when Arizona voters bucked a nationwide trend and rejected a ballot measure that would have banned gay marriage. Arizona also added two Democrats to Congress, and incumbent Republican Sen. John Kyl had to spend a pile of money to insure his re-election.

    The influx and influence of Calizonans played a role in those storylines and may spell more trouble for the GOP in Arizona. Longtime residents may recall a history of support for conservative mavericks like Barry Goldwater, Sandra Day-O’Connor and John McCain. Such a preference may be blunted by Calizonans who vote for Republicans only when they are pro-choice and married to a Kennedy.

    Liberals, too, beware the Calizonans. They may not be as eco-friendly as expected. Many Calizonans, though supporters of nature in general, would recoil at the thought of a dustbowl in their own front yard. In Scottsdale and other pockets of Calizona, the grass grows green. To be sure, such lawns look great, but no form of growth could be less natural in the desert.

    Future Calizonans, heed the old saying: You can have anything you want in life, but you can’t have everything. Arizona is a wonderful place on its own terms, but it’s no clone of Southern California. There’s much sand, but no beach. The sun does shine nearly every day, but there’s no such thing in most places as a balmy summer afternoon.

    Unlike Los Angeles, there’s a professional football franchise with a new stadium, but the team will break your heart every time. Worry not, though: If homesickness overcomes the pioneer spirit, California – which for the first time last year had more people leaving than arriving – would welcome your return.

    Quintin Cushner is a first-year law student. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

    More to Discover
    Activate Search