Say what? Arizona LEADS on immigration reform

Much to the chagrin of comedians, Arizona is moving away from its embarrassing headlines on immigration extremism and embracing a S.A.N.E. approach.

After more than two years of work, the Real Arizona Coalition has put together a platform for federal immigration reform supported by almost 40 state organizations, which include thousands of individuals such as business leaders, law enforcement officials, the faith community, civil rights activists, political leaders and more.

The effort is historic because it brings together people from opposite sides of the aisle for a grand compromise, something that hasn’t been attempted in years. It pairs Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, a staunch conservative and Tea Party favorite, with the former Chair of the National Council of La Raza, Daniel Ortega, Jr. Who could have guessed we’d see these two individuals on the same side of a legislative debate?

Others have joined in as well, and it is this team effort that makes me believe that for the first time in the five years I’ve been advocating for federal immigration reform, it may actually happen. I’m almost speechless. Almost.

Though the platform has the backing of influential leaders such as Montgomery and Ortega as well as former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, we still need Arizona’s congressional delegation to move the platform forward and begin work on federal legislation.

I remain optimistic because I’ve seen a real desire for compromise and civil discourse by members of Arizona’s congressional delegation. Just this past Sunday, reporter E.J. Montini wrote about Republican Congressman-elect Matt Salmon’s and Democratic Congressman Ed Pastor’s friendship and their desire to work together for the good of this state and country.

Consensus is tough, and this platform was not easy to obtain. As Ms. O’Connor said, “We agreed. We disagreed. And we compromised to produce what we regard as the S.A.N.E. solution.”

So what is this S.A.N.E. platform? It’s a framework for policymakers to address immigration reform by

Securing our sovereign borders

Accounting for everyone in the U.S. without lawful authority

Necessary bureaucratic reform implementation

Engaging all levels of government

In a nutshell it means that yes, we must secure our borders, but no, we must not seal them. The goal is operational control of the border, like what has been achieved in the Yuma Sector, without inhibiting trade with our most important partner.

We must reform our outdated visa system. We need a system that responds to changes in the market, whether those changes are in the low-skilled or high-tech sectors, and create a secure system for all employers to verify work eligibility.

And we must deal with the most controversial area of reform: the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants currently in this country. We know that we cannot deport nor would we want to deport 11 million people, but we also know amnesty – forgiving past wrongs and granting automatic citizenship — will not work and is a nonstarter for many Americans.

Instead, the S.A.N.E. platform offers temporary legal status to those who are currently undocumented, provided those individuals have no felony convictions, pay any taxes due, and undergo a background check. After five years those with temporary legal status who have completed all necessary administrative steps may apply for permanent legal status.

Those who are currently here undocumented who hope to one day gain citizenship will not be able to move to the front of the line but rather wait, on average, eight to ten years before being able to apply.

This platform will not satisfy everyone. Indeed, most people will want to add their own personal tweaks. However, compromise is a must if we wish to move this issue forward.

The eventual legislation will be a battle and everyone pushing for reform will be bruised in some way or another. But if individuals such as Dulce Matuz, president of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, and Bob Worsley, the newly elected Republican State Senator from District 25, can find a way to come together, can’t we all?

I encourage everyone to read more about the platform and sign on in support at This could be the beginning of a new role for Arizona, one that will make headlines for the right reasons.


    1. Post
      Julie Erfle

      Mike, the platform itself gives more details on the N and E parts, but the reality is they didn’t want to make the platform too detailed because that may make it less likely for our Congressional leaders to sign on and run with it.

  1. Mike Slater

    The illegal immigration problem we have today can be directly laid at the feet of the federal government. For years presidents, congresses and the federal courts not only failed to enforce immigration laws but actually encouraged illegals to come here. Congress said we have to provide medical treatment, the courts said we have to educate illegal children and they turned a blind eye to illegals getting jobs.

    Now you are supposed to believe the federal government is somehow going to fix this mess. I sorry but I have no faith in the federal government to stop illegal immigration. Reagan tried amnesty in 1986 with a promise from congress to secure the border. That never happened. The result was we have 10 to 20 million more illegals in the country.

    If we are really serious about stopping illegal immigration stop the the jobs and the free medical care, free k-12 education and most of all stop kids of illegals born here from being American citizens.

    1. Post
      Julie Erfle

      Mike, I won’t even begin to explain all the reasons why your argument is unsound, but basically you are lacking an understanding of our economy, our history and our Constitution.

  2. Tyler Montague

    This is the most sensible solution I’ve ever seen. Great to see more thoughtful voices take the lead over what we’ve had in the past on this issue.

    Secure the border, don’t grant citizenship unless they do it the right way and get in line, but do offer a way to square up with the law by paying fines and back-taxes, and allowing us to screen out felons, etc. I would want to see guest workers NOT be eligible for any public benefits they do not collectively pay for. Bureaucratic reform to make it all work way better and be market-driven is a must. Our current process is ignored largely because it doesn’t work.

  3. Mike Slater

    Julie, I understand the our economy, our history and our constitution very well. Did you know that past presidents have had illegals rounded up and deported? Illegals should not be rewarded for being here.

    1. Post
      Julie Erfle

      No human being is “illegal.” Individuals do things that are illegal, but that doesn’t make them illegal. It’s easy to vilify the undocumented, to broadly characterize all of them as bad people because then we can hide behind hate and fear and pretend as if all undocumented immigrants are less than human.

  4. Ara

    How many citizens have broken the law to get ahead of the game for a “better life” ? Any country would trade a number of white collar delinquents for ONE undocumented Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer award winner. He and like many more of us brought here as children, quit and are denied of the best opportunities in education, position, and positive contribution to society due to our status, struggling at every opportunity but finding a way around it to succeed within the the only land we love and know as “ours”…common and daily situations for millions. How many of these young and bright minds have we wasted and lost?. We rather give paroles and pardons to true law braking citizens rather than an opportunity to a undocumented mind. Intelligence, souls, and brightness doesn’t require papers to excel.. denying undocumented are here, only makes everything worse by pushing these youngsters into more poverty, despair, anger, disillusion and more social problems with its costs… No, they wont self deport. Who would leave their families and friends to move to a strange place alone? We practice charity to other countries, we get offended when others are humiliated, and demand fairness as a country.. this is a chance to practice it. Undocumented grown children have already paid with years of rejection for their parents crimes to US citizens..

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