Jeff Flake Defends New Position On Immigration, Says Reform Is Just Too Difficult

In today’s Arizona Republic, Representative Jeff Flake went on the defensive, saying, in effect, that he hasn’t changed his views on immigration reform but rather that politicians in D.C. have closed the door on any type of compromise. And to be honest, he’s correct. The political atmosphere in our nation’s capitol is hostile and self-serving and certainly not conducive to working toward the greater good of this country.

Where I take issue is when Mr. Flake blames this hostile environment on the current administration. That’s the type of partisan political spin that does nothing to address why we’re in this situation to begin with or how we can fix it. And when pointing fingers, let’s keep in mind that neither this administration nor the previous administration put up roadblocks to immigration reform. The barriers to real reform have always been rooted in Congress, and Congressman Flake is keenly aware of that.

I appreciate that Mr. Flake, unlike many of his colleagues, attempted to be more specific about border security, saying we need to make the Tucson Sector look more like the Yuma Sector. At least now he’s established a concrete goal and one that could and should be attainable. However, let’s not forget that law enforcement officials attributed part of the Yuma Sector’s security to the fact that some illegal crossers simply moved over to the Tucson Sector. And as Mr. Flake admitted, even when we secure the Tucson Sector, “we still face considerable immigration challenges.”

Again, Representative Flake is correct when he speaks of the changing nature of illegal crossings and the escalating violence in Mexico. This is reason number one why we need more than just boots on the ground to combat the problem. We must take bigger steps toward ensuring that American weapons are no longer smuggled across the border and used in the raging drug wars. We must take a more active role in helping Mexico end the violence that our country helped create by its addiction to drugs.

If Mr. Flake can convince his colleagues that those types of reform are part of the ‘secure the border’ mantra his party is rallying for, then maybe, just maybe we could attain real security on our borders. But to believe that ignoring our role in the illegal drug and gun trafficking trade and simply putting more bodies on the border will get us to secure levels is like believing we can end crime simply by hiring more police officers.

Perhaps comprehensive immigration reform is a dead end. Perhaps our political will is too bent against it. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t tackle parts of the problem a little bit at a time. It doesn’t mean we give up the fight. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Without question border security is a necessary and vital part of reform, but border security alone will not solve our immigration ills. I know this, millions of Americans know this, and Jeff Flake knows this. So let’s stop arguing about reform and semantics and start finding ways to implement change. We may not get the big reform bill we’ve hoped for, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make incremental changes that will take us down the path toward solutions.


  1. Bill Richardson

    Unfortunately the Yuma and Tucson sectors are two different animals and Rep. Flake should know that. It’s like comparing apples to oranges or Scottsdale to Maryvale. Rep. Flake and his republican cronies are fixated on the Vietnam game of victory by body count. What these fools don’t understand there is an almost endless supply of bodies in Mexico and and bankroll that is in the billions and approaching a trillion bucks to fund the growth and expansion of Mexican organized crime into the United States and the world. The Mexicans can do more than make Corona Beer and run border town whore houses and their success demonstrates just how good they are and how crappy we are defending the U. S. from them. Arresting illegals in Pinal County and seizing hundred pound quantities of weed won’t win the war. But for Flake and the likes of Sheriff’s Joe Arpaio and Paul Babeu, that’s all that matters because that’s what makes Fox News and the front page of the Arizona Republic. Mexican organized crime is here, it’s imbedded and “securing the border” won’t do a thing to stop the spread of serious crime in Arizona.

  2. Ken Scruggs

    I became aware of your blog through Montini’s column, and have since been impressed with what you have to say. You write well, and I appreciate your point of view.

    Before I retired, I lobbied in several states for 30+ years. Arizona has always had a stronger undercurrent of populism than other states I visited. Our harsh DWI laws, lenient gun control and prohibition of payday lenders are three examples of populism at work. A senator I knew used to say that leadership in Arizona meant recognizing which way the parade was moving and then jumping in front of it. I personally don’t like populist solutions to problems because they are driven by emotion (usually fear or anger) and they provide overly simplistic solutions to complicated situations.

    From time to time, the current becomes a flood as it has with illegal immigration. During those times, the prudent politician has always gone with the flow, believing that resistance or opposition would be politically fatal. Mr. Flake is only the latest to choose survival over principle, but its a choice they nearly all need to make.

    As your political journey continues, you may decide to move beyond commentary and seek political office. I hope you do, because you bring a fresh voice and a unique perspective to the game. Before you do that, though, you’ll have to decide how best to deal with the populists. Good luck.

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