Is Illegal Immigration the Fault of President Donald Trump?

by  Sheila K Muehling

Over my lifetime there have always been people entering this country illegally. As a small-town Midwestern kid, I was never affected by anyone coming in and working or living in my hometown. My father was a local contractor and a union member. His men were hired from the union hall and as far as I knew, they were just regular American workers.

Immigrant WorkersOver my lifetime there have always been people entering this country illegally. As a small-town Midwestern kid, I was never affected by anyone coming in and working or living in my hometown. My father was a local contractor and a union member. His men were hired from the union hall and as far as I knew, they were just regular American workers.

As a young adult living in Chicago I still was not affected by illegal immigrants. We had large Polish communities, Hispanic communities, Little Italy, the Chinese community and most of the Southside of Chicago was the Black community. I hired men and women who lived all over the city and unless they did a poor job, they worked and got paid along with everyone else. If they were a payroll employee, they never received cash and they always paid their taxes.

When President Reagan passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986,   my support was with the President.  As a person who ran a business in the construction industry I knew many of my sub-contractors hired workers who were illegal. Because they were not my employees I didn’t worry about it.  Once the law passed I was happy to share the information with anyone who was not legal and help them to complete the paperwork to become citizens. I made a big deal of the new law and to my surprise some of my own employees secretly took advantage of the IRCA. Only after they became citizens and obtained a social security number of their own did I realize how many were illegal and using a false or stolen social security card.

After the law was passed the problem was that many throughout the country did not take the opportunity to become citizens.  Thousands stayed in the shadow from fear of the government but more importantly, many didn’t come forward because they didn’t want to pay taxes.  The fact was most of the sub-contractors I hired used illegals as cheaper labor. Not because they paid them lower hourly pay, but because they didn’t have to match the Medicare and Social Security taxes, and they didn’t have to pay unemployment or union dues. When the law passed many of those companies made the effort to get all of their people to come forward but I remember that many who would work on my jobs suddenly disappeared.

After the IRCA the government promised to fix the border issues but we all know that did not happen. People continued to hire illegal immigrants. Women loved having them clean their houses and keep their yards manicured. Many became nannies and many worked in eldercare. The farmers wanted them to pick the crops, the builders wanted them to clean up job sites and haul materials. My experience was most Americans hired Hispanic workers because they are hardworking and respectful not because they were cheap. I knew people who considered their domestic help part of the family.  But no matter how much Americans loved the illegals they were in the long run still illegal and the problem became bigger and bigger. Sooner or later it had to break.

I am a strong supporter of President Trump and I am proud to be standing with him. However, we have to find a way to fix this problem and calm the country down. Many of the protesters in Charlottesville, Boston and Phoenix were not there because of the Hispanic population they were there because they are of the mind that Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist. I would also guess that better than 50% were there because Hillary Clinton lost. If 10% of those protesters ever spent one minute working with our state social services that try to help children and families, they would understand the problem is not this President. The problem lies with the previous administrations dating all the way back to President Reagan who never did anything to improve and promote the current immigration laws and that includes Barack Obama.

Instead of promoting the likes of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, stand with people like me who are demanding the government address the system of legal immigration now.  Let’s hold Democrats and Republicans alike to their promises during campaigns to reform the system. Let’s be committed enough to vote out the politicians who use excuses for doing nothing.  Americans should stand together on this issue.

Jon Gabriel on the Trump Pardon of Arpaio

Fellow Conservatarian friend and blogger extraordinaire, Jon Gabriel, gets a shout out for his great work on Ricochet, Sunday Square Off and his recent op-ed in USA Today. Be sure to sign up for a subscription to his blog for ongoing great content.

Here’s his recent media appearance on Sunday Square Off.

Also, check out Jon’s recent op-ed in USA Today:

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is no conservative and no hero, no matter what President Trump says

President Trump asked the crowd last week at his Phoenix rally, “Was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” Had the hall been filled with an accurate cross section of Arpaio’s former constituents, the answer would have been a resounding “no.”

Jon Gabriel

Jon Gabriel

Nevertheless, Trump pardoned the ex-sheriff on Friday, though he had not been sentenced and had shown zero remorse for his crime. America’s self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff” was convicted of criminal contempt of court last month after refusing to obey court orders. This most recent legal battle involved numerous federal attempts to get Arpaio to stop racially profiling residents of Maricopa County.

Not only did Arpaio refuse, he bragged about it: “Nobody is higher than me. I am the elected sheriff by the people. I don’t serve any governor or the president.”

Many conservatives outside of Arizona celebrated his headline-grabbing antics, but they don’t know the real story. I’m a conservative Maricopa County resident who has lived under Arpaio throughout his decades-long reign. Arpaio was never a conservative; he just played one on TV.

I saw his love of racial profiling firsthand, especially on my daily commutes through the tiny Hispanic community of Guadalupe, Ariz. When conducting these “sweeps,” helicopters buzzed houses, an 18-wheeler marked “Mobile Command Center” was planted in the center of town, and countless sheriff’s deputies stood on the roadsides, peering into the cars rolling by. Being Caucasian, I was always waved through. The drivers ahead and behind me weren’t so lucky.

Washington’s laxity in border enforcement led many right-of-center Americans to appreciate more robust enforcement, even when it regularly included authoritarian scenes such as the one in Guadalupe. But even if you turn a blind eye to the human cost of such race-based enforcement, Arpaio’s other misdeeds are legion.

During one three-year period, his Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office didn’t properly investigate more than 400 alleged sex crimes, many of them involving child molestation.

In all, the department improperly cleared as many as 75% of cases without arrest or investigation, a fact outlined in a scathing report by the conservative Goldwater Institute.

When local journalists delved into Arpaio’s dealings, he had them arrested, a move that ultimately cost taxpayers $3.75 million. We paid $3.5 million more after the sheriff wrongfully arrested a county supervisor who had been critical of him.

About the same time, Arpaio sought charges against another supervisor, a county board member, the school superintendent, four Superior Court Judges and several county employees. All of these were cleared by the courts and also resulted in hefty taxpayer-funded settlements for his targets.

As a U.S. District Court judge presided over a civil contempt hearing, Arpaio’s attorney hired a private detective to investigate the judge’s wife.

On the pretext of going after an alleged cache of illegal weapons, a Maricopa SWAT team burned down an upscale suburban Phoenix home and killed the occupants’ 10-month-old dog. There were no illegal arms, so they arrested the resident on traffic citations.

Arpaio’s staff concocted an imaginary assassination attempt on the sheriff, presumably for news coverage. Taxpayers had to pay the framed defendant $1.1 million after he was found not guilty.

The sheriff’s department misspent $100 million on the sheriff’s pet projects, and wasted up to $200 million in taxpayer money on lawsuits. Yet he still found money to send a deputy to Hawaii to look for President Obama’s birth certificate.

All these antics, and many more, finally persuaded Maricopa County voters to oust the sheriff by a whopping 10-point margin. They selected his Democratic opponent, despite choosing Trump by 3 points in the same election.

Convicting Arpaio of contempt of court is similar to busting Al Capone on tax evasion. It was merely the tip of the iceberg considering his numerous violations of the public trust.

The sheriff bragged in a TV interview that he would “never give in to control by the federal government.” Unsurprisingly, Arpaio ran to the federal government for help when he found himself in legal trouble. And he got it, from a president who is just as committed to truth, justice, the rule of law, conservative principles and his oath of office. That is, not very committed at all.

Jon Gabriel is editor in chief of Ricochet.com and a contributor to The Arizona Republic. Follow him on Twitter at @exjon.

 

 

 

A Civil War Era Monument That Was Never Built

By Dick Foreman

I’ve written this blog about 14 times. Seriously.

And each time it goes to the cutting room floor. My analysis of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts has been set aside by a recall issue. School Funding is a critical discussion turning into the flavor of the day but at least ideas are emerging and competing. And then Charlottesville happened and the focus lurched into a new discussion. Shall we bulldoze Confederate monuments or not? Sweet mercy sakes, I thought we had some tough challenges with public education issues, and now Confederate monuments are bumping our schools’ needs off the radar. One of my keenest advisors and observers of the Arizona political and policy scene said this to me, “I am annoyed at everything.”

Yes. I am annoyed, too. But not at everything. In fact, as I think about it, I am far more grateful for the opportunity to support the over 1 million Arizona children who have started school again this month. And, with due gratitude to Dr. Ruth Ann Marston and Phoenix Elementary School District Superintendent Larry Weeks for tipping me off, I now have a keenly refreshed perspective on this point. Perhaps you might appreciate it, too. Read on.

It is a sacred opportunity to define the mission in public education. It’s as American as our American Founding Fathers, who unequivocally endorsed it. So, understanding our roots might help, like learning the real pioneer history of public education in Arizona. What are we doing this for? Who is our “Education Founding Father?” Do we have one?

Yes, indeed we do. And he’s an incredible role model and inspiration as well.

Don Estevan Ochoa

Don Estevan Ochoa

So, I’d like to reflect on Don Estevan Ochoa, born in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1831. Senor Ochoa is Arizona’s Education Founding Father. To me, this is not a debate. It is an irrefutable truth.

In a nutshell, Ochoa was a Tucson merchant who, during the Civil War, refused to shift his loyalties from the United States Government to the Confederacy in deference to the demands of the commander of the marauding army from the south. When he told them “no,” they confiscated all his worldly goods (which was a lot as he was one of the most successful merchants in Tucson at the time) and ordered him out of the Territory. Forcibly put outside the protective Tucson Presidio, he vowed to return to drive the Confederates from Arizona. And he did! Ochoa made his way through hostile Indian lands to fetch a Union battalion at the Rio Grande that returned with him, successfully restoring Arizona to the Union. He was a bonafide war hero and American patriot. And this curious fact remains true to this day; in 1875, he was elected Tucson’s first and last Mexican American Mayor.

As accomplished a career as this was, it was still not enough for Ochoa. He was also president of the school board where he upstaged the Arizona territorial legislature and a domineering Catholic bishop to single-handedly raise the funds and donate the land to build the town’s main public school. He accomplished this as a follow up to his efforts three years earlier, as chairman of the territory’s Committee on Public Education, to establish Arizona’s first public school system in Tucson.

Author Jeff Biggers wrote about Ochoa in an online piece A Mexican Immigrant’s Act of Honor for the New York Times (See A Mexican Immigrant’s Act of Honor, by Jeff Biggers, The New York Times, February 14, 2012):

In the spring of 1876, the Arizona Citizen declared: “Ochoa is constantly doing good for the public,” and concluded, “Ochoa is the true and useful friend of the worthy poor, of the oppressed, and of good government.” With the school completed in 1877, the same newspaper raved: “The zeal and energy Mr. Ochoa has given to public education, should give him a high place on the roll of honor and endear him more closely than ever to his countrymen. He has done much to assist in preparing the youth for the battle of life.”

Wow. This reads like a very sensationalized western novel. But it’s not a novel, it’s Arizona’s pioneer heritage. Maybe it’s time to finally desegregate our opinions and integrate our collective hopes.

For many, our respective engagements in public education seem hopelessly mired in what I do not affectionately refer to as political “flotsam and jetsam.” I’ll say this as positively as I can, our vision for Arizona’s educational future remains a critical thinking opportunity.

In my more pessimistic moments, it seems we’re bent on ignoring our past to get to a future that we collectively refuse to envision through consensus building. That’s a problem. What is NOT a problem is where we started. Don Estevan Ochoa was Mexican by birth, American by choice and a hero by deed. He gave up his fortune to fight the Confederate marauders. He got into politics, bless his soul. But most importantly from my perspective, he created the Arizona public education system. He started it all.

Perhaps we should build another Civil War inspired monument – to Don Estevan Ochoa. Senor Ochoa was a real Arizona Civil War hero, an immigrant, a businessman, a true patriot, a rugged pioneer, a proud Republican, and the founder of Arizona’s public education system.

Now isn’t that a heritage all Arizonans can be proud of?

NOTE: Dick Foreman is president & CEO of ABEC.

Senator Sylvia Allen: The Tragedy of Charlottesville Riots

Sylvia Allen

Senator Sylvia Allen

“How can we know who we are and where we are going if we don’t know anything about where we have come from and what we have been through, the courage shown, the costs paid, to be where we are?”

– David  McCullough:  American author, and historian

By Sylvia Allen

History must be preserved and protected.  It must not be distorted and altered to fit the whim of the current political movement.  We learn from our past.  We take the mistakes and change ourselves so we don’t repeat them.  We understand the deeds of good men and women who had the courage to stand for what’s right, and we continue to emulate that.

Our American founders expressed over and over how important it was for our founding principles to be taught to future generations.  Thomas Jefferson said that we cannot be ignorant and free.  Over the last 50 years, we have distorted the past for political gain.  We have destroyed the loyalty and love for our country in the hearts of many of our youth.  We have held up other governing philosophy as superior to ours, leaving out the truth of brutal consequences.If someone is protesting peacefully (I repeat, peacefully and legally) we will respect that, even if we don’t agree with them.   It is their God given

If someone is protesting peacefully (I repeat, peacefully and legally) we will respect that, even if we don’t agree with them. It is their God given right to freedom of expression.  If we take away their rights, we have also taken away our own rights.   I strongly reject and condemn the beliefs of white supremacy groups.  I can reject their message and still allow them to peacefully speak.We need to understand the principles of fascism,

We need to understand the principles of fascism, totalitarianism and Marxism. All the “ism’s” have one thing in common; they control people’s thinking, their property and every aspect of their life. The fascism and totalitarianism ideals are so far Right that they meet Marxism and communism on the other side.  Russia, China and Germany murdered millions to control how people think or behave, often sending those who spoke out to concentration camp.  In Munich, Germany 1938, “Kristallnacht”, or The Night of Broken Glass,resulted in thousands of Jewish men, women and children being beaten and killed along with the destruction of their shops and homes. From there it led to the gas chambers.There are parallels in history with what is happening not only in Charlottesville but for the last few years of rioting in our country.  My question and concern

There are parallels in history with what is happening not only in Charlottesville but for the last few years of rioting in our country.  My question and concern is, where will it lead us to?Now we hear that the Washington and Jefferson monuments should be torn down because both presidents were slave owners.  Again, what was the world like over 200 years ago?  The entire world’s economy was slave-driven due to the lack of machinery and the fact that all things had to be produced by human energy.  Even certain African nations sold their fellow countrymen into slavery.  Indentured servants, for all intent and purposes, were slaves until their servitude time was served.  Even today, North Korea and China use slave labor.

Now we hear that the Washington and Jefferson monuments should be torn down because both presidents were slave owners.  Again, what was the world like over 200 years ago?  The entire world’s economy was slave-driven due to the lack of machinery and the fact that all things had to be produced by human energy.  Even certain African nations sold their fellow countrymen into slavery.  Indentured servants, for all intent and purposes, were slaves until their servitude time was served.  Even today, North Korea and China use slave labor.For millennia, people’s fate was determined by what station in life they were born into. Then a new dawn of governing appeared, driven by the conviction that all men are created equal and that all were born with inalienable rights from their Creator.  These thoughts revolutionized the world.

For millennia, people’s fate was determined by what station in life they were born into. Then a new dawn of governing appeared, driven by the conviction that all men are created equal and that all were born with inalienable rights from their Creator.  These thoughts revolutionized the world.Yes, some of our founders owned slaves.  They were born into

Yes, some of our founders owned slaves.  They were born into a world that had been functioning this way for thousands of years. But more importantly, our founders had the courage to declare that it was a time for change and that the current system must be reformed so that all should be free.  These doctrines are not the problem, they are eternal truths; it is mankind who finds it difficult to live them.  If those men and women in 1776 had not established a new form of government, what would America be like today?

You and I have a responsibility to stand as citizens to defend our Constitution and founding principles that have given us prosperity and individual freedom.  We must defend the rights of individuals to have freedom of expression and to believe in the dictates of their own conscience without reprisal. This was an inalienable right given to us from our Creator.   It is our time now to see if we are worthy of the blessings of freedom.  To be born free is a privilege, but to die free is an awesome responsibility.

You and I have a responsibility to stand as citizens to defend our Constitution and founding principles that have given us prosperity and individual freedom.  We must defend the rights of individuals to have freedom of expression and to believe in the dictates of their own conscience without reprisal. This was an inalienable right given to us from our Creator.   It is our time now to see if we are worthy of the blessings of freedom.  To be born free is a privilege, but to die free is an awesome responsibility.

Frosty’s Snowflakes

By Calamity June

We’ve noticed that over the last few days, Frosty’s Fake News has led with a “warning” to the rejects and sore losers who are pushing a recall against AZ GOP Chairman Jonathan Lines. A typical post reads as follows:

“Any State Committeemen Being Harassed for signing a Remove AZGOP Jonathan Lines “call” petition should notified (SIC) petition spokesman Marianne Ferrari…Harassment is a Class I misdemeanor…”

Even for the typical spittle-flecked drivel of Frosty’s Fake News, this is incredibly rich. Having engaged in a near non-stop campaign of lies, smears and bullying against Chairman Lines and his team, Frosty’s Snowflakes apparently can’t handle even a modicum of scrutiny that comes with their ill-fated effort to remove AZ GOP leadership in the middle of a crucial election cycle.

SnowflakeThese snowflakes have sent the better part of the year crying about bylaws violations that don’t exist, licking their wounds over a free and fair election that they lost, and fabricating wrongdoing for the sole purpose of grabbing power. Like the liberal snowflakes who still haven’t come to grips with President Trump’s victory, Frosty’s Snowflakes similarly are unable to grasp the fact that they were rejected by the state committee in January.

So instead of working to Make America Great Again and fight for President Trump’s agenda, they throw tantrum after tantrum while attacking grassroots Republicans and attempting to shut down discussion from anyone who disagrees with them, in the best traditions of left-wing college students in need of a “safe space.”

These are snowflakes like Bruce Piepho, who compares the AZ GOP to the rise of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany; like sore loser Jim O’Connor, who claims on one side of his mouth that he is uninvolved with a recall effort, then travels up to Show Low to advocate for it; like Lori Hack, who as a Never Trump Republican was removed from the RNC convention floor after refusing to support our Republican nominee. (You can find a full list of the Recall Roster here, snowflakes all.)

While real Republicans in Arizona continue to work to register voters, turn out Republicans for municipal races and lay the groundwork for a successful 2018, Frosty and her snowflakes continue in their effort to tear down the party…and then cry crocodile tears when anyone dares to criticize their destructive behavior and calls out their lies.

They represent the height of hypocrisy and the definition of Alinksy-style tactics. And once again, they will be rejected by Republicans who want to win in 2018.

Guest opinions are not necessarily the opinion or position of Sonoran Alliance or its editors. 

Fightin’ Words!

Gary Kiehne

Gary Kiehne

Even without a calendar, you’d know it’s election time by the sudden reappearance of Senator Jeff Flake within the state’s borders and on television.

His handlers have clearly decided the way to sell Flake to Arizona as a conservative is to rebrand him as Senator Barry Goldwater, even brazenly stealing the title of Goldwater’s iconic book, The Conscience of a Conservative.

But Flake is no Goldwater.

When Flake refers to Arizonans as “nativists” and “protectionists” because we believe in sane immigration and trade policies, he is using “fightin’ words”!

What is wrong with calling illegal immigrants, illegal immigrants?  What is wrong with basing our immigration policies on what is best for America, rather than what is best for the Third World’s impoverished masses that want to come here?  (Some seeking paradise and a brighter future, others a government handout, and sadly some who would do us harm.)

What is wrong with advocating America-first trade policies, rather than tolerating one-sided trade deals that suck money out of our economy and yank jobs from our shores?  Is it really “protectionist” to show spine when advocating for the people whose interests you are elected to represent?

The late Senator Barry Goldwater was not a “globalist.”  He was an America-first patriot.

In his new book, Flake says, “if we’re going to be a governing party in the future, and a majority party” we need to change our approach (to his own brand of Republicanism.)  I might point out to the Senator that we already are the majority party now!  As an unofficial member of the Senate’s “Surrender Caucus,” he has become so accustomed to surrendering before a battle is fought that he should probably be forgiven for not recognizing we hold the majority, and acting accordingly.  And when he does pick a battle it is within his own party, namely with President Trump.  As a member of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” he honestly believed that if we gave the Democrats everything they wanted up-front in the reviled immigration bill, the Democrats would honor their word to give Republicans everything we wanted later.  Much later.  Really, Jeff?  If you really believed that, I have some Ocean Front Property I’m dying to sell you.   Senator, show me when that has happened in the last 70 years?

Barry Goldwater was a courageous fighter, statesman, and patriot who was not afraid to stand alone and sound a warning bell about the dangers of encroaching socialism.

Unlike Jeff Flake, Barry Goldwater didn’t promote compromising our foundational American principles.  Jeff Flake seems to think “we are at our best” when we compromise “across the aisle” to surrender our principles gradually, giving America away in bite-sized pieces.  When Flake suggests it is possible to find healthy “common ground” with Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi, he may as well suggest healthy cells grow through “compromise” with cancer cells.  Government-dictated socialism cannot co-exist with free-society capitalism any more than cancer cells can co-exist with healthy cells.

Today’s national Democratic Party is no longer the party of John Kennedy.  It’s the party of extremists like Bernie Sanders, and others even more radical than he.  Today’s Democrats promote a virulent strain of socialist cancer…and what is at stake today is nothing less than America’s survival as a prosperous, free Republic based on individual liberties enshrined in our constitution…or, it’s continued descent into becoming a failed, bankrupt, socialist regime like Venezuela or Cuba.

Fortunately, we still have a way of self-correcting our course in America.  It’s called an election.

A recent survey found that Senator Flake was ranked the third most unpopular man in the U.S. Senate behind only Senator Mitch “Surrender” McConnell, and our other Arizona Senator, John McCain.  It’s undoubtedly for good reason.

Hopefully, Arizonans will remember the actions of Senator Flake in the five years he has been absent from Arizona, rather than buy the re-branded, newly-packaged “Goldwater Conservative” his handlers are selling us now.

Goldwater’s undoubtedly rolling over in his grave.

By Gary Kiehne, a former Arizona candidate for U.S. Congress, business owner, rancher, Trump supporter and unabashed Barry Goldwater supporter.

Thank You To The Asian and Vietnamese-American GOP Members

By Sheila Muehling

Dear Mr. Timothy Schwartz,

In late February of this year after being elected an officer of Maricopa County GOP, I offered to act as Chairman of the Lincoln Day Luncheon. This event has been an annual celebration of the precinct committee men and women who work tirelessly for the Maricopa Republican Party.

By the time, I volunteered to Chair the luncheon, it was already well past the celebration marking President Lincoln’s birthday which was typically when the event was hosted.  To my dismay there were no plans in place by the previous administration nor were there any records or guidelines as to how the event should be organized.

Arizona Asian American Republicans

In the beginning, I was a little apprehensive wondering if the luncheon would be supported by Maricopa County PC’s.  That issue was quickly erased when I received an overwhelming number of emails asking where tickets could be purchased. However, the one email I would like to share with you and the people who share your negative views of the Asian and Vietnamese GOP PC’s was from Farhana Ahmed. Mrs. Ahmed informed me that she would be filling two to three tables of ten at the luncheon and she guaranteed payment of the seats.

Unlike the Asian PC’s, many including PC’s in my own District 23 would not support the luncheon. In one case an officer came to the event claiming he paid for a ticket yet he couldn’t produce anything to show that he did. Another officer of another District wanted a refund because two of his guaranteed seats couldn’t attend and the seats were resold to other people at the door.  His reason was we didn’t have the right to sell the seats twice! The same group of Asian PC’s had four people who couldn’t attend yet never once questioned reselling their seats. They had paid their money and considered it a contribution to the Maricopa GOP who they supported.

I was stunned when I read your posting attacking the recruitment of the Vietnamese Conservative PC’s. Your statement, “They can’t even speak English.” was stunning.  So, I will ask you the same question Mr. Dang asked you in his open letter dated July 12.  Should the people who come to the United States and work to become American Citizens be disqualified as GOP Precinct Committeemen and women because they speak broken English or they need help in navigating the system? Should your hatred for all things Jonathan Lines and the GOP apply to new American citizens who believe in the Conservative principals of the Republican Party? Should those people be purged from the rolls of the GOP?

I for one welcome the Asian community as well as any person who comes to the United States and wants to be a Conservative Republican member.  And I, along with thousands of other GOP activist, welcome you and thank you for your commitment and support of the GOP Party.

Gov. Doug Ducey: Ex inmates in Arizona’s fire-crew program given a real second chance

‘I felt like a zero. Now I feel like a hero.”

That’s what an Arizona inmate said to me when I traveled to Navajo County in the summer of 2016. My team and I were up north observing the damage caused by the Cedar Fire and meeting the brave firefighters who risked their lives to protect our state’s landscapes.

The man I met was part of a group of inmates enlisted in a fire-crew program operated by the Arizona Department of Corrections. The agency’s program selects current inmates to fight fires throughout Arizona while serving their time in prison.

To me, the program is a way of letting these individuals pay back their communities and, by giving them a chance to be productive members of society, increasing the likelihood that they won’t return to prison after being released. Often, it means a job is waiting when they walk out the doors.

One squad boss who spoke to KOLD News 13 in April said that the program has “been a life-changing experience for me. I know a lot of the guys out here feel the same way.”

I told that story during my State of the State address in January, and I’ve thought about it many times since. Exchanges like this — and the positive outcomes we’ve seen from Arizona’s forward-thinking corrections efforts — are one of the reasons we’re investing more in anti-recidivism programs this year.

The next time a Sawmill Fire rages through Southern Arizona, threatening our neighbors’ homes, property, and livelihood, I want it to be easier for individuals released from prison to stand up and protect their communities.

That’s why the new state budget I signed a few weeks ago is investing $1.5 million to create a post-release fire crew. (The existing program enlists current inmates; the new program enlists released inmates.) We’re giving Arizonans a real second chance to turn their lives around in a meaningful and productive way.

Our anti-recidivism strategy is a win-win for everyone involved, including hardworking Arizona taxpayers. After all, it’s expensive to house inmates — and, according to the data, 39 percent of inmates released from prison will eventually return to prison. That’s a big bill to pay in the long term.

Taxpayers already give enough of their hard-earned money to government. They shouldn’t be expected burden the ever-growing costs of recidivism because of outdated policies.
This new fire crew accomplishes both: It protects taxpayers from long-term prison costs, and it improves public safety. And it’s not the only investment we’re making to make that happen.
Our fiscal year 2018 budget also finances the expansion of “Employment Centers” within Arizona prisons. These centers help inmates do things like build résumés and find jobs before they’re released, giving them tools to lift themselves up and build better lives rather than revert to their old ways.

This is a common-sense investment to reduce the state’s prison population and save taxpayers money.

So far, we have opened three of these successful Employment Centers, including in the Manzanita Unit in Tucson. All three centers are now open and operational, and we’ve already seen 35 individuals receive job offers after participating. (There are nearly 200 inmates currently going through the program.)

Our goal is to give people the tools they need to improve their lives, help them see value in themselves (maybe for the first time in their lives), and offer them a concrete way of paying back their communities.

Whether that means analyzing the effects of outdated occupational licensing processes on individuals with criminal records or enabling released inmates to work as peer coaches to help those struggling with addiction, our state is taking the lead when it comes to getting people back on their feet.

That’s how to give Arizonans a real second chance — and how to save Arizona taxpayers money while doing it.

This guest opinion originally appeared on Tucson.com.

 

TODAY: Help the Trump Administration Repeal Title II

Earlier this year, new FCC Chairman Avit Pai began the process of rolling back Obama era regulations which put a choke hold on innovation and liberty. In 2015, the Obama Administration, in a textbook example of regulatory overreach, began applying Title II regulations to the internet. These regulations placed exceptionally restrictive burdens on internet and threatened to dramatically decrease high speed access and open competition.

Chairman Pai’s unequivocal support for a free and open internet is worthy of our applause and our support. Moreover, we should be sure to thank our entire Republican delegation in Arizona, for standing up to the Soros-funded left and backing this important regulatory rollback.

Far left groups, many funded by George Soros, have declared today a “Day of Action,” in a final desperate attempt to keep this onerous regulatory regime in place. Several large corporations are joining them, worrying more about their bottom lines than about the freedoms that the internet provides all of us.

We know that our Republican elected officials are going to be getting a tremendous amount of pressure to oppose Chairman Pai’s efforts. Let’s make sure they hear from us today, thanking them for holding the line for fairness and a free internet. You can contact them through UnlockTheNet.com where you will see links from free market groups so that you can contact your representatives.

Congressional action ensures that never again will a free an open internet be threatened by the whims of an overzealous executive. A legislative solution is the best way to keep the forces of over regulation and burdensome rule making from interfering with the commerce and innovation of the internet.

Chairman Pai and the Trump Administration are taking a crucial step in maintaining a free and open internet. Now it’s our turn to seize control and demand that Congress pass legislation that will maintain these freedoms for generations to come.

https://m.facebook.com/FreedomWorks/photos/a.10150681417619548.418729.5633824547/10155363399994548/?type=3&source=44&ref=page_internal

An Open Letter to Timothy Schwartz

Dear Mr. Schwartz,

I was very disappointed to read your attack on Matthew Kenney this week. For a party officer, someone who should be working to unify our Republican Party, to write such a divisive and belligerent letter was a disgrace.

I was also personally offended by your attacks on my fellow Vietnamese-Americans, many of whom became PCs for the first time when Chairman Graham and Matt Kenney visited our community and urged them to become Republicans. Many of them have very little knowledge on voting rights and have never registered to vote, and those who have registered were enlisted as Democrats. Thanks to the inspiration and positive messages delivered to members in the Vietnamese community by Mr. Kenney, hundreds of Vietnamese-American have joined the Republican Party. Should we, Republicans not be celebrating that?

Briefly about me, I am a first generation American migrated from Vietnam at the age of nine.  I love this country, and I love my Republican party, as much as you, as much as other Americans. I’m currently serving my second term as President of the Vietnamese Community in AZ, was recently appointed by Chairman Lines as the Chairman of the Arizona Asian Coalition, and I proudly serve as a member of Governor Ducey’s AZ State Board of Pharmacy. This country has given me, and so many other Vietnamese-Americans tremendous opportunities for advancement, the freedom to live, to speak, to pray as we choose, and to support the leaders who we choose. We are, sir, as American as you are.

Your attack on Mr. Kenney speaks derisively and disrespectfully of those Vietnamese PCs who “did not speak the English language.” I also find it incredibly hypocritical to attack Mr. Kenney for signing up PCs when you, yourself also harassed many of those “non-English speaking” PCs. While they denied your attempts because of your rude and aggressive nature, you constantly arrived at their homes offering to notarize their forms.

Mr. Schwartz, do you know who once did not speak the English language? Me! And yet I felt a love for this country from the first moment I learned about the history of this great nation, the land of Freedom and Opportunities!  As a freedom-loving Vietnamese-American,  I embraced the principals of Ronald Reagan and the first President I ever cast a ballot for, George W. Bush.  I’ve always worked hard, realizing the American dream and being able to provide financially for my family. And yet, to you, I should not be a PC…should I not be a Republican, either?

We should embrace those who are new to this country, who so love America that they want to get involved with our party, to make a positive difference in our community. This is why I have taken a leadership role with the AZ GOP, and why I will continue to recruit as many new Republicans as I can to join our ranks.

I have seen how you conduct yourself publicly, and how you strive to tear down so many of our fellow Republicans. I am hopeful that you will take a step back and recognize how destructive your actions are to our great Party.

Thank you.

Kevin Dang