Hysteria over illegal immigrants must stop
Arizona Republic
November 25, 2007

Barry Goldwater Jr.
My Turn

Several weeks ago I attended a rally for an Arizona ballot proposal that would permanently and irrevocably rescind a company's business license the very first time it hired an illegal immigrant.

What I encountered at the Support Legal Arizona Workers' rally was shocking and egregious. Speeches soaked with hateful, angry racist tones and dialogue. Eyes closed, listening to the roar of inflammatory rhetoric and sermonizing, I could have easily mistaken myself to be at one of David Duke's Ku Klux Klan rallies in Baton Rouge, La.

"Deportation, deportation, deportation" was the chant of the incensed crowd.

Illegal immigration has, like so much of our political system, become so polarized - left and right. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have painted themselves into a narrow corridor in the political spectrum, unwilling to breach the middle ground and seek the reasonable and compromising actions the people of this great nation and state so desperately crave and deserve.

The people of Arizona have always been drawn to leaders who speak out about their freedoms from excessive government, excessive taxes and regulation, and for safe neighborhoods, honesty and preserving Arizona's pristine environment. These are the principles of conservatives, including my father, Ronald Reagan, Bill Buckley, Jon Kyl and many, many others.

In addition, these men were - and are - committed to protecting those who are less fortunate. These men always rejected racism. These men believed strongly in the benefits of immigration and what it has done to enrich our American economy, culture and heritage.

Unfortunately, our conservative leaders today have fallen from these principles and become ensconced in the polarized political spectrum. Leaders such as Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, and Don Goldwater, architects of the Support Legal Arizona Workers initiative, are getting tarred with the far-right brush. They are rapidly losing the respect of the business community and most rank-and-file Republican contributors. They have tarnished the image of the Republican Party with the extreme hysteria and rhetoric they represent.

My father was a strong proponent that with leadership came responsibility. Leadership is about finding fair and reasonable solutions.

Rep. Pearce and Don Goldwater (a first cousin of mine) are targeting, in a way that is neither fair nor reasonable, a group of people who have been coming here for a long time.

Many of these folks became legal citizens and many have not for different reasons. These are good people. These are people I grew up with and who bring a rich culture to the Valley. Most of these folks are Christians, good parents, hard-working and industrious. Many have families, own homes and automobiles, hold jobs and have kids in school.

This hysteria has to stop. We all walk this world as human beings, and we should all seek to understand and help one another. The citizens of Arizona and this great nation are people from all ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs and walks of life. We need to urge our lawmakers to practice tolerance and fairness, to become more involved in working for a comprehensive solution that will be just to all.

We need leaders that are respected by all sides for their wisdom, their wit, and most of all their rational thinking. And we need them today. Only these kinds of leaders can solve our immigration woes.

Barry Goldwater Jr. is a public and government affairs consultant in Phoenix. A Republican, he served as a congressman from Los Angeles from 1969 to 1983.