Sparring At Hearing On Immigration Seen As 'Political Theater'

By Al Macias
April 24, 2012

(Photo by Dustin Volz - Cronkite News Service)
Former state Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, testifies about his bill, Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law, before a U.S. Senate subcommittee Wednesday as Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, listens.
Supporters and opponents of Arizona’s anti-illegal immigration law battled at a congressional hearing Tuesday.

The Arizona law known as SB 1070 makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. The hearing, held before a Senate subcommittee chaired by New York Senator Chuck Schumer, came a day before the U.S. Supreme court is scheduled to hear arguments about SB 1070.

Schumer, a longtime advocate for immigration reform, had invited Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to testify but she declined.

Instead, former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce volunteered to defend the law that he sponsored in 2010. Pearce cited polls that he said show overwhelming public support for SB 1070.

“Simply put, SB 1070 has clearly worked and Arizona has acted within its authority,” Pearce said at the hearing. “The Supreme Court has held that states can use their inherent police powers to enforce immigration laws.”

But Pearce’s claims were challenged by Todd Landfried of Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform.

“If these laws are so good, why are the impacts so bad?” Landfried asked. “The answer is, you have bad outcomes because you had bad input. Put bluntly, we are being misled by proponents who routinely distort data.”

Nine of the 11 senators on the subcommittee did not attend the hearing. Schumer pointed to the absence of any Republican senators at the hearing, highlighting the political battle has led to the stalemate on the issue of immigration reform.

“We don’t have anyone sitting down and saying ‘here’s what we want to do to solve this immigration problem.’” Schumer said.

Arizona Senator Jon Kyl is on the subcommittee and did not attend the hearing. He issued a statement saying the hearing was political theater.