Emails From Russel Pearce, Writer of SB 1070, Lay Out Racist Views
You know how proponents of SB 1070, and similar laws, always claim something along the lines of "It's not about race! It's about the law!" Well, yea; no, it's about race. Case in point, Russel Pearce, who introduced the legislation with the help of Kris Kobach and the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His emails demonstrate an undeniable bigotry. Read emails below.
(flickr: remix Gage Skidmore)
via AZ Central
Opponents of Arizona's controversial immigration law, Senate Bill 1070, are using dozens of e-mails sent by Russell Pearce over the past six years to allege that the law was racially motivated and that the former senator and sponsor of the legislation fabricated data to persuade the Legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer to support it.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona acquired thousands of Pearce e-mails through a public-records request and included dozens of them in a legal motion to block a portion of the law.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month in a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice that the part of the law that requires law-enforcement officers to ask about a person's legal status in certain situations does not conflict with federal authority. Lower courts could issue a ruling on how and when that goes into effect as soon as today.
The e-mails from Pearce in the court documents include statements such as: "Can we maintain our social fabric as a nation with Spanish fighting English for dominance? ... It's like importing leper colonies and hope we don't catch leprosy. It's like importing thousands of Islamic jihadists and hope they adapt to the American Dream."
They also include unsupported statistics such as "9,000 people killed every year by illegal aliens," and "the illegal aliens in the United States have a crime rate that's two-and-a-half times that of non-illegal aliens."
The ACLU is part of a coalition of individuals, non-profit organizations and other immigrant-rights groups that filed its own legal challenge of SB 1070. They hope to use the e-mails to show a pattern of discrimination that, they believe, was Pearce's motivation for SB 1070 and thus prove that it violates the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.
If they are successful in showing a pattern of discrimination, it could help persuade the courts to overturn the law, legal experts say. It could also prove fatal for Pearce's state Senate election comeback bid.
Pearce did not return calls seeking comment. But he has consistently said that his only motivation is to compel federal and state officials to enforce immigration laws. Illegal is not a race, it's a crime, he's fond of saying.
"I've never been a hateful guy," Pearce said in a 2011 interview. "It's disappointing that people would paint you as a hateful guy. ... Vigilant? Absolutely. But I'm not hateful. I just know my duty. My duty to my country, my God, my family and the rule of law."
Randy Parraz, who organized last year's successful recall to remove Pearce from the Senate, believes exactly the opposite. Pearce is seeking to regain that Mesa legislative seat.
"This just shows who Russell Pearce truly is," Parraz said. "You can call it hate speech. (SB 1070) was about using this type of fear and hate for political purposes."
Brewer signed SB 1070 into law. Her spokesman, Matthew Benson, dismissed the idea that SB 1070 was politically motivated or that inaccurate statistics persuaded leaders to support it.
"The ACLU's tactic is a smoke screen," he said. "By focusing upon an individual legislator's e-mails, they intend to divert focus from SB 1070's simple, common-sense language -- language that the overwhelming majority of Arizonans and Americans support, and language that the Supreme Court unanimously upheld."
Pearce has drawn criticism since before he was elected to public office.
As Motor Vehicle Division director in 1996, he successfully pushed for a law that requires individuals to prove they are in the country legally to get a driver's license. Immigrant-rights activist Salvador Reza at the time called the law "racist."
As a state lawmaker, the accusations against Pearce continued.
In 2006, Pearce faced a backlash for using the term "Operation Wetback" in praising a 1954 federal program that deported illegal immigrants.
That same year, he sent an e-mail to supporters that included an article from the National Alliance, a White-supremacist group. The story attacks the media for presenting a "single view of the world, a world in which every voice proclaims the equality of the races, the inerrant nature of the Jewish 'Holocaust' tale, the wickedness of attempting to halt the flood of non-White aliens pouring across our borders."
Pearce apologized, saying that someone he thought was a friend had sent him the article and that he forwarded it without reading the entire article.
He was criticized in 2011 after he forwarded a letter from a substitute teacher that another senator eventually read on the Senate floor. Pearce defended the teacher, who wrote that most Hispanic students would rather be gang members than students and that they "hate America and are determined to reclaim this area for Mexico."
During Pearce's 2011 recall election, former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo and Bay Buchanan, who served as U.S. treasurer under President Ronald Reagan, organized the Committee to Oppose Recall of Russell Pearce. Their website, teamamericapac.org, included links to such organizations as the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which some have accused of having an anti-immigrant agenda and Social Contract Press, which advocates barring Muslims from immigrating to the U.S.
Pearce also had connections to J.T. Ready, an avowed White supremacist and border vigilante who in May killed four people and himself in a domestic-violence altercation.
But Pearce distanced himself from Ready. "At some point in time, darkness took his life over, his heart changed, and he began to associate with the more despicable groups in society," Pearce said in a statement released to the media shortly after the murders.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision on SB 1070 last month requires the lower courts to reinstate the part of the law, Section 2B, that requires an officer to make an attempt, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there's reasonable suspicion that person is in the country illegally.
But the high court invited challenges to that decision if petitioners could show that authorities were unreasonably prolonging law-enforcement stops or discriminating against particular groups.
The coalition plaintiffs this week filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the lower courts from putting Section 2B into effect. The motion raised issues about whether the law was enacted for "racially discriminatory purposes."
That's where the Pearce e-mails come in.
"That would go to the intent of the Legislature," said Dan Pochoda, legal counsel for the ACLU in Arizona. "If you can show intent to discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity."
That could be in violation of the 14th Amendment, which says that no state may "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
According to the pleadings, the e-mails show that Pearce and his correspondents tended to blur lines between illegal immigrants and Hispanics in general. They also include what the motion calls "invented facts," like e-mail statements that illegal immigrants are involved in 60percent of all murders or are responsible for the majority of murders of police officers, or "the idea that everybody who's marching to protest the law is illegal," said Omar Jadwat, one of the ACLU's lead attorneys in its case against SB 1070.
"Key legislators relied on invented 'facts' about the costs and dangers of 'illegal immigration,' conflated Latinos generally or certain U.S. citizen children with 'illegal aliens,' and used thinly veiled code words that, in context, plainly reveal a discriminatory motive," the motion says.
Although all the e-mails were sent from Pearce's personal or legislative e-mail address, it is unclear if they were all his own words or if some of the statements were taken without attribution from other individuals.
Jadwat notes that the e-mails are some of the first evidence in the 2-year-old case and says they "demonstrate a hostility toward the Latino population of the state that is striking."
Benson said the tactic will not succeed in court.
"So long as the ACLU is reading thousands of an individual legislator's e-mails, I'd suggest they spend at least as much time reading something else: the text of SB 1070. If they did, they'd find that SB 1070 specifically bars state and local officers from relying upon race, color or national origin in the enforcement of this law," Benson said.
Jack Chin, a former University of Arizona law professor and SB 1070 expert who now teaches at University of California-Davis, said e-mails and questionable claims of fact alone aren't likely to persuade a court to overturn the law, but they could help if combined with other evidence.
"If we're talking about the bad views of one legislator, even an important legislator, that's going to be a hard sell because the majority of legislators who voted for the thing might not have been racially motivated," Chin said. "And you can't second-guess the Legislature's factual assumptions. How do we know if any particular fact is the one that made the Legislature decide what it did?"
He said courts are typically more interested in details of the bill itself or its enforcement.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton has not ruled on the injunction request.
The e-mails could factor into Pearce's race against fellow Republican Bob Worsley for the Senate seat Pearce lost last fall, said Todd Landfried, who was active in last year's recall.
"Russell's been saying that kind of stuff for years," said Landfried, executive director of Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform. "But as more and more people hear about it and understand the preposterousness of it, it makes a difference."
Although Pearce is well- known in political circles, Landfried said recall supporters found voters in Pearce's Mesa district who did not know him despite a decade in the Legislature.
Worsley said the ACLU lawsuit and e-mails reinforce why he is running against Pearce.
"There's been a preoccupation with Russell on 1070 that's been very unhealthy," Worsley said. It's time to move past the law's divisive approach to immigration and focus on job creation, economic recovery and balanced budgets, he said.
Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, an SB 1070 supporter, said renewed furor over the law will only boost his former colleague's fortunes. "Any time people are reminded of the wildly popular SB 1070 and its sponsor, it only helps him," Kavanagh said of Pearce.
He called the ACLU's allegation a "smear campaign" by people who believe they can read Pearce's mind.
These are excerpts from e-mails Russell Pearce sent from 2006 to 2011. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona acquired about 10,000 pages of e-mails from legislative staff via a public-records request.
"The illegal aliens in the United States have a crime rate that's two-and-a-half times that of non-illegal aliens. In particular, their children, are going to make a huge additional crime problem in the U.S."
"The birth rate among illegal immigrants is substantially higher than the population at large."
"Last week, Denver's illegal aliens sang our national anthem in Spanish and bastardized the words of OUR country's most sacred song."
"Battles commence as Mexican nationalists struggle to infuse their men into American government and strengthen control over their strongholds. One look at Los Angeles with its Mexican-American mayor shows you Vincente Fox's general Varigossa commanding an American city."
"We create cultural and linguistic apartheid by creating a slave class of workers unassimilated while growing in numbers and antagonistic strength. This condition creates a perfect formula for rioting and violence that will tear our nation to pieces!"
"They create enclaves of separate groups that shall balkanize our nation into fractured nightmares of social unrest and poverty."