Immigration still a ‘political hot potato’ in Arizona
During three presidential debates, the word “immigration” was uttered only once, according to a check of transcripts posted online by the Commission on Presidential Debates. In that one instance, McCain accused Obama of misrepresenting McCain’s position on the topic. There was no further discussion.
Brooks Jackson, director at Annenberg Political Fact Check, chuckles when asked about the lack of discourse about national illegal immigration. “It has not been an issue aimed at the larger electorate,” he says. Both candidates, he says, have run Spanish-language ads targeting Hispanic voters on the topic.
Why is it off the radar?’
By contrast, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio seeks re-election in the Phoenix metro area based largely on his effort to round up and deport illegal immigrants — an enforcement program condemned by Hispanic leaders and Mayor Phil Gordon as “racial profiling.”
Arpaio is the top law officer in a county that, at 9,200 square miles, is bigger than New Jersey, and has a larger population —3.8 million — than half of the states.
The sheriff mocks both presidential candidates for dodging the issue: “Where did it go? Why is it off the radar?” he says. “I’m not an expert on politics, but I think it has to do with (getting) the Hispanic vote.”
When asked for comment on the sheriff’s programs, Obama’s Arizona campaign spokesman David Cieslak, provided a campaign statement that said local immigration enforcement “can lead to unintentional discrimination against Latinos,” and illegal alien roundups are “divisive.”
McCain’s campaign did not respond to questions about the sheriff’s programs. Bruce Merrill, a pollster at Arizona State University, says the caution is understandable: Immigration is the hottest issue in Arizona next to America’s economic meltdown, and about seven in 10 registered voters strongly support Arpaio.
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