Arizona Recall Election a Real Sign of Hope

November 09 2011

Joseph Rendeiro
(202) 776-1566

Washington, D.C.—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) today called the election of Jerry Lewis as the next State Senator from Mesa, Arizona a turning point in that state’s recent ugly and divisive anti-immigrant, anti-Latino crusade. Lewis defeated Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce, architect of Arizona’s notorious SB 1070 and a key leader in anti-immigrant extremist circles. Lewis has drawn a stark contrast between him and Pearce on the issue of immigration, with Lewis calling for a more comprehensive, civil and effective strategy on the issue.

“This is a good day for the Latino community, but it is also a good day for the people of Arizona. They have at long last seen that Russell Pearce and his allies have done devastating damage to the state’s economy and reputation and his actions have been a major distraction in a time of real crisis in the state. Yesterday, they rejected that path and voted overwhelmingly for a better way forward,” stated Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR.

SB 1070, which essentially codified racial profiling as an accepted practice, inspired a boycott that cost Arizona’s tourism industry millions of dollars and tarnished the state’s image. Although the courts have blocked many key provisions in the bill, SB 1070’s legacy lives on in the numerous copycat bills that have since been passed in states such as Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.

“Senator-Elect Lewis has said that he wants to distance Arizona from the intolerant label the state has been branded with in the wake of SB 1070,” said Daniel Ortega, Board Chair of NCLR. “Having seen firsthand the effects of this law as a resident of Arizona, I can say that SB 1070 put a dark cloud over this state. This election shows that people are clearly eager to move forward and I am proud that the people of my state have chosen this new path. But to do that, Senator-Elect Lewis must help push back against those legislators, many of whom are in his own party, who continue to pursue unconstitutional anti-immigrant policies and spew hateful rhetoric about the Latino community.”

“Arizona’s passage of SB 1070 set off unfortunate and counterproductive efforts by elected officials in several other states to replicate these laws and bolster their own political fortunes. Perhaps Arizona can be a bellwether here as well. This election should send a clear message to all candidates at the local and national level of not only the limits of that strategy but, more importantly, that elections can be won with a sensible, humane, and solution-oriented approach to the issue of immigration,” concluded Murguía.


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