Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Barry Wong, a Republican candidate for the Arizona Corporation Commission, told The Arizona Republic on Tuesday that, if elected, he would require regulated utilities to check the immigration status of customers, a move he says would keep costs down for other customers. "There is a cost ratepayers shouldn't have to bear because of the illegal-immigrant population," Wong said. Arizona's illegal immigrants should have utilities cut, candidate says
"Everyone is seeing the polls that are so anti-immigrant, and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon to target immigrants," said Julie Pace, a partner in the Cavanagh Law Firm. "They all are coming up with novel ideas how they can get elected. They say, 'Target immigrants, and it helps me win an election.' "
"Wrong Way" Wong wants utility companies to become Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, the same way that Sen. Russell Pearce wants teachers and school administrators to become ICE agents. The Republican tendency towards authoritarianism leads to a police state mentality. Right Wing Authoritarianism: What Is the Allure in Being a Follower? (Discussion of Conservatives Without Conscience, by John Dean.)
By the way, almost every state has a law prohibiting termination of utilities, even when a customer is in arrears, during severe weather seasons. People tend to die from exposure to extreme cold or heat, especially children and the elderly. It is a public policy decision based upon Christian values, if you will.
"Wrong Way" Wong is getting whacked in the media for his extremist proposal. The Arizona Republic editorialized today One more jumps on the bandwagon:
The politics of hate and fear is spreading like a foul oil slick across Arizona. Candidates are rushing to prove their anti-illegal-immigration credentials with one extreme measure after another.
Who cares if the ideas are feasible, affordable or flagrant violations of everyone's civil rights.
The poison has reached the primary race for Arizona Corporation Commission. GOP candidate Barry Wong suggests the possibility of requiring regulated utilities to check the immigration status of customers.
Need an electric hookup? You'd better have your birth certificate or passport handy.
Wong is no crackpot. He's an attorney and businessman who served on the Corporation Commission. Yet this whole scheme is cockeyed. The costs, if utilities could even figure out how to do it, would swamp any possible savings in reduced usage. And the economics right now are just the reverse: So many illegal immigrants are leaving Arizona that utilities are losing revenue. In today's overheated environment, what Wong considers a modest proposal has morphed into a scare tactic.
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We don't think Wong thought this through. But in his willingness to jump on the bandwagon, he has joined the campaign to demonize illegal immigrants: If your electric bill is high, it's all their fault. It is disturbing that someone like Wong, who has had a reputation as reasoned and thoughtful, would end up playing into the current hysteria.
The Arizona Daily Star editorialized today "Migrant political ploy makes no sense" (not yet posted online):
The latest contestant in the I-hate-illegal-immigrants-more-than-my-opponent-does race is Barry Wong, a Republican candidate for the Arizona Corporation Commission. His brilliant idea? He wants to keep illegal immigrants from getting utility service such as phones, electricity, water and natural gas.
Wong's attempt to drag illegal immigrants into the ACC race is absurd.
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His proposal rings of an election-season bid to jump on the anti-immigrant bandwagon, although Wong claims his motivation is purely economic.
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Are utility companies supposed to verify the citizenship status of every person using the electricity? If the intent is to save money by trimming the number of people using the utility service, shouldn't the state force these private businesses to enforce federal laws? Would agents from the utility companies have to go door to door making sure that the people enjoying air conditioning or using a lamp to read are here legally?
If Wong's concern is, as he says, that illegal immigrants are fueling demand, which in turn requires expensive infrastructure expansions, then Arizona should seal all of its borders and not let anyone in from any other state.
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Yet in this election year, Wong says that the ACC, a state agency that has no legitimate, involvement in any policy matters touching on immigration, should insert itself into the political maelstrom of illegal immigration and take up a ludicrous posiion.
Being "tough" on illegal immigrants has become code for "I'm a real conservative" and the charade reflects poorly on candidates who play that card.
Even the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, hardly a "librul" voice, has condemned "Wrong Way" Wong's extremist proposal. Arizona Capitol Times » AZ Chamber: Wong’s utility plan a cheap stunt, dangerous:
The president of the one of the state’s largest business groups called an Arizona Corporation Commission candidate’s proposal to cut off utilities from illegal immigrants cruel, dangerous and a cheap political stunt.
“Your cynical attempt to ratchet up the rhetoric over immigration to score cheap political points in a bid for office marks a new low in our state’s immigration debate,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Glenn Hamer wrote June 30 of Commission candidate Barry Wong’s proposal.
Hamer noted that temperatures in Phoenix easily reach the 110-degree mark in summer.
“To deny someone access to electricity based on his or her immigration status is not only a wrongheaded policy proposal, it’s just cruel,” he said. “If your proposal were to take effect, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where a household has its electric utilities shut off in the summer heat, thus exposing children or the elderly to potentially fatal consequences.”
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Hamer told the Arizona Capitol Times that he wrote the letter because Wong’s idea is “so far beyond the pale” that the candidate needs to be called out.
“It just screams of political opportunism,” Hamer said, adding cutting off anyone’s utility service is simply not an option because if implemented, it could lead to a loss of life.
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Much of Hamer’s letter talked about the dire consequences of shutting down a household’s utilities.
“It’s not just air conditioning that gets shut off under your proposal, but also medical equipment like respirators or dialysis machines or cooking equipment.”
Thanks for stepping up to the plate, Glenn.
I would like to be able to say, "stick a fork in this guy, he's done." With a rational and reasonable electorate, this would be true. But we are talking about a Republican primary in Arizona, where rationality and reason has fled the state a long time ago.