Now that the March 5th DACA deadline that Trump arbitrarily imposed has passed, I think we are all a little murky on what this actually means for our DACA/Dreamers, especially with conflicting court rulings.
Back in January, a judge ruled that the government had to continue processing DACA renewals. That was a very important ruling for those of the 683,000 or so young Americans who had DACA, but was of no help to those who never filed in the first place or whose application had lapsed. Still, it was a victory. And in the days of Trump, even a small victory will do.
Recently, a judge in Maryland ruled that the government DID have the legal right to begin winding down the DACA program. Although that did not contradict the previous ruling stating that renewals must continue, it did set the stage for the eventual end of the DACA program. That leaves us in a gray area where renewals continue, but only temporarily.
On the legislative front, the narrower DACA bill failed in the Senate, and it seems like there is no movement to try and resurrect that fight. The House version of the bill, far less “narrow,” is H.R. 4760, entitled “Securing America’s Future Act of 2018.” This heinous bill contains quite a few nasties. I won’t get into all of them, but here are the low-lights.
The bill gets rid of the Diversity Visa Program, eliminates family reunification migration policies such as allowing citizens to sponsor siblings, parents and adult children, and renders the FORMER spouses and children of drug and human traffickers inadmissible. This bill strips certain authorities that the Department of State has to issues visas away and grants it to Department of Homeland Security.
On the local front, this bill would MANDATE COMPLAINCE WITH ICE. According to the American Immigration Lawyer Association, or AILA, it “raises serious constitutional concerns by mandating that states and local governments comply with ICE detainers, even when federal courts have found that these detainers can violate the 4th amendment. Precludes any state or locality from prohibiting or restricting in any way its cooperation with federal immigration enforcement.” So much for state’s rights. Local and state governments are treated to the carrot or the stick, according to the bill. Operation Stonegarden funds (of Pima County Supervisor’s fame) will be doubled in the coming years to strengthen collaboration between local police forced and federal immigration enforcement. Carrot. OR, your state or local government will lose federal grants to the tune of millions of dollars if they refuse to comply. Stick. It also creates a way for local law enforcement to have blanket immunity in certain cases.
Other provisions found in the bill include a mandate that the border wall is constructed, it re-defines “criminal gang” in overly broad terms, and requires the long-term detention of almost all persons undergoing removal proceedings. It also allows for Customs and Border Protection to hire 5,000 new agents and 4,000 new officers with benefits far exceeding those of a regular government employee. We’re talking retention bonuses up to FIFTY PERCENT of the agent’s salary (and in some cases up to ONE HUNDRED PERCENT), unfettered access to lands up to one hundred miles from the border and no more polygraph test for new hires!
So what we get must be pretty awesome, right? I mean, if we’re talking about deal making, there’s got to be a hook? Ha! There is NO pathway to citizenship for those with DACA (contrary to some reports I’ve read), it does NOT allow people to reapply for DACA if their application lapsed or if they didn’t apply back in the Obama years. It even criminalizes poverty. An applicant who does not maintain an income over 125% over the federal poverty level becomes ineligible for renewal, loses their status and can then be deported. And the final kick in the teeth is added fees for the renewal application, including a $1,000 “border security” fee.
H.R. 4760 is an outrage and it is insulting. Although it doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of passing in the Senate, all real progress had stopped because the Republicans have decided “look, we’re done” while they hold up this sham of a bill. NO to H.R. 4760, and GET TO WORK, OR GET OUT IN 2018!
On October 26, 2017, Represent Me AZ hosted the second forum for Democratic candidates seeking to replace Martha McSally as the U.S. Representative for Arizona’s 2nd District. The forum was held at the (quite full) Rincon High School auditorium, and was moderated by Jim Nintzel of Tucson Weekly. The questions were collected online prior to the forum by Represent Me AZ. In alphabetic order, the candidates vying to replace Martha McSally are Matt Heinz, Ann Kirkpatrick, Billy Kovacs, Mary S. Matiella and Bruce Wheeler.
Indivisible Southern Arizona does not endorse candidates, but supports educating Southern Arizona voters about their choices for the 2018 Election. What follows is a summary of the forum.
Note: This is not a direct transcript; it is written in the style of a live blog, paraphrasing the key points of candidates’ responses. There were often cheers for candidates' statements, but they are not included here. Boos are noted, as are other significant audience reactions.
Each candidate made an opening statement. A summary of each candidate’s statement is included below, in the order in which they were given:
Wheeler: I’m anti-Trump. Served district in AZ House for 3 terms. Want to expand Medicare.
Kirkpatrick: Everything I care about—climate change, protecting the environment, and creating jobs—is on the chopping block. My new grandson spent time in the ICU and I feel strongly about healthcare.
Heinz: We’re all united in wanting to get rid of McSally. We’re here asking you for a job.
Matiella: We aren’t being represented by McSally. I will fight for us.
Kovacs: I have a new vision for what this district should be, neither Democrat nor Republican. I want both high-paying STEM jobs and ways to help blue collar workers transition to new jobs, and I believe in education.
Question and Answer
For the remainder of the forum, moderator Nintzel posed questions collected and selected by Represent Me AZ prior to the event. Each candidate had a limited number of cards they could "spend" to answer some of the questions.
What specific changes would you push for to improve the Affordable Care Act?
Kirkpatrick: Lower prescription drug costs. I have a health care working group in Tucson. We need to focus on prevention and allow people to buy into medicare.
Kovacs: Cross-state competitiveness in insurance markets. If I can go to Mexico or Canada for cheaper drugs, that’s a problem. We need to keep big business from meddling with prescription costs. I support Medicare for all.
Wheeler: Medicare for all. It already works, and we all know people on it. I want to strengthen it and make it more viable.
Do you support a federal gun registry?
Kovacs: Mass shootings are tragic, but we need to shift the conversation to domestic violence. I have to register cars and the government passes safety laws; we need the same thing for firearms. States don’t share gun registry info well; we need to improve that.
Matiella: You can’t have different policies for different states. We should require background checks, get assault rifles out of the hands of criminals and domestic abusers.
Wheeler: Mass shootings are a disgrace. There was once bipartisan support for background checks and banning bump stocks; I’d push for that.
Heinz: We can’t stop every mass shooting, but we can limit the availability of weapons of war, like assault weapons. I don’t think you need to have more than 10 bullets in a magazine.
How do you balance environmental regulations versus business needs?
Kirkpatrick: (Answering last question) I’d support Gabriel Giffords’ gun views; she endorsed me. Arizona should be the leader in solar energy, and we need to stop oil subsidies.
(As she answered, about five audience members held up “RepealOak Flat land grab now” signs and someone shouted about Oak Flat. Kirkpatrick offered the following in response: That was a Republican bill by McCain and others. I wanted to make sure the community was protected. People in that community valued the environment. Studies are going on right now; they want a copper mine but they want a clean community.)
Kovacs: Our monsoon seasons are getting shorter, and the world doesn’t have enough food globally. We need to make sure we’re the solar capital of the world. We need to transition blue-collar jobs to high-tech jobs to save the middle class. We need to protect our clean water, and stop the Rosemont copper mine.
Wheeler: McSally voted on the new tax bill this morning, which helps pave the way for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge drilling. With Scott Pruitt at the EPA, the wolves are guarding the henhouse. If we can retake the House, we can put a brake on Trump’s plan to get out of the Paris Climate Accord.
What steps should the U.S. take to combat climate change?
Matiella: Encourage people to use renewable energy, and put penalties on fossil fuel use. That’s going to be tough because the fossil fuel industry is powerful. I'm in favor of aggressive legislation, by 2050, I hope we will have legislation out mandating we're all using electric cars.
Heinz: Refurbish our electric grid. A lot of our energy just bleeds out of the system. We should definitely be the solar capital of the world.
Kirkpatrick: We need a national strategy. I'd stop subsidies for the oil industry and redirect them to renewable energy. California is leading the way on this, so should we. We should be producing solar panels here in Arizona; solar should be affordable so people can put panels on their houses.
Do you support the repeal of the estate tax?
(Nintzel asks for show of hands; no one supports.)
(Nintzel asks for show of hands; no one supports.)
How would you secure the border?
Kirkpatrick: We don’t want a wall. We need comprehensive immigration reform, and we need to pass the DREAM act. The border is too rugged for a wall. We need to protect DACA.
Matiella: Border wall is stupid; it doesn’t work. What does work is good border security, so hire more. (The audience boos at this.) My husband was born in Nogales—his family wasn't criminals and rapists like Trump said. We can solve problem with security at the border, or drones. Border wall is bad for the environment.
Kovacs: Make sure every undocumented person in country has pathway to citizenship. I don’t think we need more agents. I think we need more commerce with our partners, and improved easy crossing for border communities.
Do you support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants?
Wheeler: My father only spoke English, my mother only spoke Spanish. I do not have a birth certificate, and I challenge Republicans to make this an issue.
Heinz: We have to approach this with fairness, compassion and common sense. We need to make sure people get in line and get their green cards. We have a bottleneck at the border, and need customs officials, not border agents, to improve the flow of border commerce.
How would you support Davis-Monthan Air Force Base?
Wheeler: The A-10 is obsolete. It only has one purpose: it's perfect for close air support. They tried to create the F-35 to do anything. Now it has cost $1.1 trillion and it's 6 years late. We should be focusing on future of DM. We need better than the F-35.
Kirkpatrick: (Answering last question) I brought Dreamers (DACA recipients) to work on Capitol Hill to show them off. On DM: Ron Barber saved the A-10, not McSally, and she takes credit for it. I co-sponsored the legislation. I served on veterans services committee and we don’t pay the DM folks enough. Fort Huachuca is now a high-tech warfare center, we need programs like that at DM.
Matiella: I started working at DM when I was 16 years old. I’ll do everything I can to protect it. I have a different perspective on the A-10. I was at the Pentagon when it was up for cancellation. The Army and Marines love the A-10. Our current missions require the A-10. To say we don’t need the A-10 is theoretical—people need it. The Boneyard can get bigger, and we can start offering drone support. (Several crowd members respond with the military "Hoo-ah" salute.)
Kovacs: I've heard testimonials from the military that the A-10 is good. We need to look at the big picture, and other Arizona bases. Warfare is now high-tech, and we need to embrace that. We also need to fight wasteful military spending, and make sure subcontractors' dollars instead go to the people who need it most: those living and working on bases.
For this part of the forum, candidates asked each other questions.
Kirkpatrick: I believe we need to balance taking care of the environment with jobs. We can lower emissions on existing coal-fired power plants. Paul Ryan refused to address this suggestion; it's the Republicans’ fault.
Kovacs (to Kirkpatrick): We’ve seen what the spotlight can do to candidates, like Hillary Clinton. Why stay in politics?
Kirkpatrick: I want to have a future for my grandchildren. I want to protect our government and ban Citizens United. There's too much dark money in politics, including $40 million spent against me in past years.
Kirkpatrick (to Kovacs): You’re young. How can we turn out the millennial vote?
Kovacs: Millennials won't vote for someone because they have a D next to their name. We want someone to stand for something. We need authenticity.
Heinz (to Kirkpatrick): During your Senate campaign, you advocated for term limits. Yet you're running for office again. How do you reconcile that?
Kirkpatrick: I signed on to a pledge for a constitutional amendment for term limits, and I still support that.
Next, Nintzel posed the final question.
How will you turn out voters?
Wheeler: We have to level with voters and not appear partisan. Rancor in the country is the worst since Civil War. I stand for universal medicare; that’s not a popular stance. Let’s be bold.
Kirkpatrick: This really is the most important election. I want to knock on doors and meet you where you are; you motivate me. People in Arizona are intelligent and knowledgeable about issues.
Heinz: We have to be present and show up, unlike McSally. My patients see me in the hospital and are concerned about Trump and our country.
Matiella: I’m going to be authentic. I’ll hear you out and then respond to you. Throughout this forum we haven’t talked about poverty. There are 25 million people who are poor, and I'll be fighting for them.
Kovacs: Most people here tonight are engaged, primary voters. We need to get our message out. We need to resonate with voters. We need to go out and fight the fight with the people who are fighting; not just paying lip service.
Kovacs: I want everyone in the audience to focus on getting out the vote. We won’t win unless we stay united as Democrats.
Matiella: This district has already done a lot of good work getting people registered. I go out and visit the locals; I want to know how I can help people.
Heinz: We need to have someone who can connect with people. I spent 6 months working in hospital talking to patients and listening to their concerns. I hear from patients all over Southern Arizona and know what's worrying them besides heart attacks and strokes.
Kirkpatrick: We’re united in wanting McSally gone. I've lived in Tucson longer than McSally and I have deep ties to Tucson.
Wheeler: McSally listens to her donors like pharmaceutical and oil companies. She listens to her benefactors, not her constituents. We'll change that.
Let’s face it Indivisibles, we have a gender imbalance within our ranks. This is not by design, but you’ll notice at any of our meetings the female population in the room might be seventy percent? I am proud of my sisters who so boldly stand side-by-side with me, and for our male counterparts who are just as enthusiastic.
But there is this word that the other side has been using a lot lately: hysteria. Every time I hear it, my hackles raise a little bit, partially because of who is saying it and partially because of the history of the word.
“Hysteria” was once a psychological diagnosis that was applied exclusively to women. Symptoms included: sexual desire, insomnia, shortness of breath, irritability, a “tendency to cause trouble,” or seventy other problems. Hysteria was basically a catchall term applied to women with real or imagined issues, and was sometimes used as a political tool against women such as suffragettes or others who had aspirations outside of the home.
So it rankles when Representative Martha McSally called us hysterical when we met with her in February. And it made me feel dismissed and diminished when she referred to us as hysterical in her closed door meeting with bankers in May.
Martha McSally and her Koch brother alumnus communications director have been trying to cultivate an image of being a powerful, strong and heroic woman who is looking out for other women (see her interview with Glamour Magazine). But it is hard to champion women when invoking language that reduces us and transforms our concerns into mere “hysteria.”
Let's face it, print news is in trouble. The printing press revolutionized the way we disseminate information, and electronic media has caused another paradigm shift. The Arizona Daily Star (ADS) is all we have left for daily print content, and we have had many criticisms of it in the last four months, coming to a head around the time of the Tax March.
The 25,000 square foot Arizona Daily Star building was once home to around 1,100 jobs and now houses only around 250 people. The hallways echo and the labyrinthine corridors snake around in silence. The dark crater of the former Citizen lies dark and unused, and the monster printing press never gets to execute its awesome full potential.
The Arizona Daily Star is anemic, with much of its content outsourced to the AP and Reuters. The truly local content tends to be lighter pieces and not "deep dives" that have become the hallmark of more successful print publications such as The Atlantic and The New Yorker.
So what is it that has subscription rates up for some publications and down for others? Well, I'm sure everyone thinks they know, but here is my opinion.
I own a small, open-forum newspaper that has been in print since 1983. We have extremely loyal readership and advertisers, and could probably get bigger if I had the time. The thing that makes us so successful is that we publish local, community content that is 100% unique. It isn't something that you can just go get off of CNN or other news service.
Often, when I open up the Star, I see content I can just get off of my cell phone. It really isn't the journalists' fault, or many of the staff at the Star but it does reek of a corporation winnowing down talent in order to turn a profit.
No, I don't like the lack of coverage the ADS treats Indivisible, RepresentMeAZ and McSally Take A Stand to. And no, I also don't like the light pieces they gift to Martha McSally. I feel like the Arizona Republic in Phoenix does a deeper dive on CD2 issues, and the ADS never even mentioned the leaked audio while pretty much every news outlet including CSS, politico, and New York Magazine did. There is still more on that audio tape that could be pulled out, and yet the ADS hasn't bothered to do so (or doesn't have the resources).
Finally, the ADS seems to be a newspaper that would represent a center, center-right city better than decidedly left leaning Tucson. It is rumored that the Heads at the ADS wanted to endorse TRUMP. A Tucson newspaper endorsing Trump. Do they even know their readership?
The Arizona Daily Star need to:
-Provide content that cannot just be scooped up on someone's bathroom break on their smartphone:
-Expanded opinion section (I actually think Sarah is doing this...kudos!
-"Deep diving" reporting, which means investments into personnel to give them the time and resources to do this. Don't just tell me that the A-10 is going to lose 3 squadrons. Interview some people. Find out that McSally has been bragging to people that she saved the A-10 by manipulating Donald Trump three days before the cuts were announced. Cover the fact that a grassroots Super PAC, rarer than a blue moon, has been started up in Tucson. -Provide more local content. For national news, I can look on my smartphone.
-Provide fair and balanced coverage, but cover more stuff. The bar for covering an event seems to be sky high. The Tax March had 700-800 attendees, and apparently that was not enough to warrant a story. OK, but how about why there was even a Tax March to begin with? Put an intern or student on the job and get out there to do some interviews. Interview counter protesters. Pro-Trump rallies. Do you see where I am going with this? Cover what is happening in the community. The ADS is a local paper, and not The Atlantic. Nor will it ever be The Atlantic.
I want everyone to continue to support our local print publications as well as our digital ones. But I think we need to put some pressure on the ADS to cover things in more depth. I am not even necessarily looking for coverage of only us. But deeper coverage (and, yeah...us too!).
On Thursday, June 8, the House, including Arizona congressional representative Martha McSally, voted to kill the Dodd-Frank bill.
Voters in her district have been calling, tweeting, emailing, faxing and writing letters asking for her position on this legislation since April. Most Arizonans had no idea how she would vote since her office staff repeatedly told constituents she had no position.