STATEMENT: CAP’s Angela Kelley on Arizona’s Historic Recall Election
Washington, D.C. — Angela Kelley, Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement in reaction to yesterday’s recall election in Arizona:
In a historic recall election, Arizona State Senator and Senate President Russell Pearce (R) lost his seat, and Arizona’s anti-immigrant movement lost one of its most virulent champions. Pearce authored S.B. 1070, Arizona’s infamous immigration law that became a model for state legislation throughout the country, as well as a number of other extreme measures that he failed to get enacted.
Pearce’s demagoguery on immigration vaulted him to national prominence as a leader of the nativist movement. He got his 15 minutes of fame and then some. Arizonans are legitimately frustrated by the failure of our nation’s leaders to solve the immigration issue, and Pearce exploited that frustration through fear-mongering. But his extremism was his undoing.
Voters in his district and throughout the state had a bad case of buyer’s remorse when they felt the economic backlash from the legislation and the state’s tarnished image as unwelcoming and intolerant. Hopefully Pearce’s recall will be the tipping point where conservatives begin to reject the most hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Arizonans, like all Americans, are pragmatic. They want serious, practical solutions to real problems. By identifying illegal immigration as a problem, Pearce hit an important note with the state’s voters. But by enacting legislation designed to demonize a segment of the state’s population, Pearce hammered the nail in his own political coffin.