America

Arizona's Attorney General Walks Immigration Tightrope

Terry Goddard

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard. Matt York/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Matt York/AP

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard has a fairly stark dilemma on his hands.

As a Democrat trying to unseat Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, on one hand he can't antagonize his party's base, especially Hispanics, if he hopes to have them turn out sufficiently for him in November to give him a chance to win.

But on the other hand, he can't win on Arizona's Hispanic and liberal votes alone. There simply aren't enough of them.

So he must somehow appeal to independents, many of whom support the new anti-illegal immigration law.

As of June 1, Republicans were 36 percent of the electorate, Democrats 33 percent and independents 31 percent.

So Goddard is man on a tightrope, an immigration tightrope. He aired his nuanced in a conversation he had Friday with All Things Considered co-host Michele Norris Friday.

As Michele said introducing her interview:

"As attorney general, Goddard is trying to walk a fine political line by opposing both the law and the federal government's lawsuit challenging it."

Goddard explained to Michele why he opposes the federal lawsuit against SB 1070 at the same time he opposes the legislation itself. He argues he'd rather have the federal government focus on fixing the immigration system than spend time on the lawsuit.

An excerpt of his interview:

The critical issues constitutionally were already before the court in Arizona. There were six and, now with the Justice Department, seven lawsuits against the state.

I would much prefer, rather than lawsuits, some long-term solutions. And we've been hurting in Arizona for a long time, ever since 1986 frankly, when the last revision to the immigration laws was made because the federal government has been missing-in-action on immigration.

We've had no adjustment to the work permits and visas that allow people to come into this country and work. And there became a tacit understanding that the only way, especially in the Southwest, you could grow, the economy could flourish, was with immigrant labor.

And there was no way to  legally bring in the immigrant labor so they came in as illegals. And that created a divided situation in Arizona and in much of the country that we're now wrestling with in a really anguishing struggle that's nationwide.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.