PHOENIX (AP) — Two of Arizona's most prominent advocates for tougher border enforcement are seeking financial contributions to counter potential legislation that would prevent states and cities from enforcing immigration laws.
An email solicitation made by former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on behalf of the Ban Amnesty Now group seeks donations to oppose legislation that U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York has promised to pursue if Arizona's 2010 immigration law is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Critics of Pearce and Arpaio say the group is within its rights to seek the contributions but added that they believe the two are using illegal immigration as a fundraising tool and aren't all that interested in lessening the country's immigration woes.
"It seems they haven't heard the political message," said Randy Parraz, an organizer of a recall effort that led to Pearce's ouster from the Legislature in November, adding that rank-and-file Arizonans are more concerned about jobs and education than illegal immigration. "They are still playing that one note."
Pearce, the chief sponsor of the state's 2010 immigration enforcement law and now president of Ban Amnesty Now, said the fundraising pitch is no different than those made regularly by politicians and that contributions are needed to continue opposing those who seek soft immigration policies.
"Of course, they are going to complain," Pearce said. "And the reason they complain is that they are losing. The public wants the borders secured."
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in late June on Gov. Jan Brewer's appeal of a ruling that blocked enforcement of the most controversial sections of the immigration law.
The governor is asking the nation's highest court to overturn a ruling that, among other things, blocked enforcement of a requirement that police, while enforcing other laws, question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally.
The day before the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case late last month, Schumer held a hearing regarding the Arizona law. Schumer vowed that if the Supreme Court upholds the law known as SB1070, he would pursue legislation that would prohibit states and cities from enforcing immigration laws without first getting federal permission.
Angela Kelley, an immigration analyst for the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress, said the legislation promised by Schumer would have a tough time becoming law given the difficulty in recent years of getting enough support for immigration proposals to pass. Kelley said Pearce and Arpaio aren't interested in genuine efforts to fix the nation's immigration woes.
"They're more about the emotions behind it and the politics behind it rather than coming up with smart policies," Kelley said. "The tone that this and other organizations take isn't about a constructive outcome. It's about continued shouting."
Arpaio's office declined to comment and said Pearce should speak for the group.
Pearce said no one is twisting arms to get contributions and scoffed at the notion that he shouldn't seek contributions to fight potential legislation that faces tough odds at passage.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.