New York Times Damns AZ GOP Gov. Ducey With Faint Praise for Avoiding Illegal Immigration Issue

February 10th, 2016 12:54 PM

New York Times Phoenix bureau chief Fernanda Santos gave out surprising praise to Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in Wednesday’s edition -- though it’s less surprising when you realize why, in: “Arizona May Face New Pressure After Shifting Immigration Focus.”

Like her newspaper, Santos has a history of trying to discredit Republicans on illegal immigration. In August 2014, Santos suggested Arizona citizens who showed up to a forum to express concerns about border security were misguided because, after all, Mexico was "at least 200 miles away” (now illegal immigration is a national concern of enormous electoral import).

Santos wrote Wednesday:

When Doug Ducey ran for governor of this border state, he accused President Obama of “dithering far too long” on immigration and vowed to “fight back” against illegal border crossers, pledging to use every resource at his command: “fencing, satellites, guardsmen, more police and prosecutors.”

Now in his second year as the governor of Arizona -- a state at the forefront of immigration and border issues, with a growing Latino population -- Mr. Ducey, a Republican, has done none of that. He has avoided pressures from his party’s presidential candidates even after one of them, Donald J. Trump, twice visited the state to promote the “big” and “beautiful” wall he said he would build to keep illegal immigrants away if he was elected.


But he may soon have to wade into the divisive immigration debate, which is again coloring Arizona’s legislative session and bringing angry crowds of protesters to the Capitol’s lawn and hearing rooms.


Already, the state has one of the nation’s toughest stances on illegal immigration. It has battled in state and federal courts to deny driver’s licenses and in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants who were granted deferred deportation by Mr. Obama. It is home to Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, who made a name for himself as an unapologetic pursuer of unauthorized migrants. And it ushered in a harsh new wave of immigration enforcement when it gave the police broad powers to question anyone suspected of being in the country illegally -- passing the “show me your papers” law in 2010.

Mr. Kavanagh was among the crucial supporters of the measure, which Mr. Ducey’s predecessor, Jan Brewer, approved. The legislation divided a state already scarred by years of targeted enforcement against Latinos, who make up one-third of the population.

Santos took care to make distinctions between Ducey and his more conservative counterpart in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott.

He also proposed spending $31.5 million to send 200 state troopers after drug smugglers along the border, the only border-related program he has championed so far. The scope of the effort is a far cry from the $800 million that Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, also a Republican, secured from his state’s Legislature last year to extend indefinitely the deployment of National Guard troops and air and ground surveillance along the Rio Grande Valley, which has faced questions over its cost and results.

“Our goal, because of limited resources, was going after what was most hurtful, and that was why we went after the drug cartels,” Mr. Ducey said in the interview, drawing a distinction between his and Mr. Abbott’s approaches.


Mr. Ducey had the Customs and Border Protection commissioner, R. Gil Kerlikowske, an Obama appointee, by his side when he announced the border program from the State Capitol in November. That was a clear departure from Ms. Brewer, who is still well remembered for wagging a finger at Mr. Obama on an airport tarmac.

Santos gave Republican Gov. Jan Brewer the ultimate back-handed compliment in a January 2013 story:

Ms. Brewer, though, casts a different profile. She is the finger-wagging governor respected in conservative circles for her outspoken criticism of Mr. Obama and unfaltering support of Arizona’s strict immigration legislation, which she fought for all the way to the Supreme Court.

But on Wednesday, as she stood surrounded by health care executives at a news conference that seemed more like a pep rally, she was repeatedly called “compassionate,” not a word often used to describe her.

Santos again cast Ducey as the preferred softer alternative to a conservative -- in this case, former Gov. Brewer.

In an interview, Ms. Brewer said her successor should use his bully pulpit to “tell the federal government to secure our border, then we can deal with all the other problems that are upon us as a country.”

He has been handing out olive branches instead.


Immigration advocates have been cautiously watching from the sidelines, unsure what to make of him just yet.

“At least he isn’t using the hate speech we heard so often from Governor Brewer,” said Viridiana González, who leads a coalition of community groups opposing Mr. Kavanagh’s bill, after a protest of the legislation last month.

(Santos has managed to quote liberal activist Gonzalez twice in her articles. The last time, Gonzalez was a mere humble mother of three “who uses the Spanish pronunciation for her name” and was extremely pleased to hear a local news anchor use a Spanish accent: “I think I kind of pumped my fist and celebrated. Hey, look, she’s not afraid of her heritage.”)

Santos was pleased that the governor left illegal immigrants out of his rhetoric:

Mr. Ducey made no mention of illegal immigrants as he outlined his border proposal, which he carefully framed around the heavy toll heroin addiction has exacted in Arizona.