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Arizona Voters Wary of Immigrants as Gubernatorial Race Heats Up

— September 12, 2018

Right-wing politicians are taking a cue from the Trump administration’s playbook, warning voters that immigrants may take over the country under a Democratic government.

“Everybody wants their community safe. Everybody wants America safe,” Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) told a group of Republican volunteers. “This is about community security. This is about opioids and the drugs coming through the border. This is about the cartels.”

For the past quarter-century, crime rates have fallen throughout the United States. And over the last several years, so too has immigration.

Nevertheless, prominent politicians—from state representatives like McSally to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions—have kept up a ceaseless stream of anti-immigrant rhetoric. Much of the antipathy seems to stem from the White House, with President Trump having made the border a critical issue since his inauguration.

The Hill interviewed several voters, including Bill Coleman.

Coleman, an Arizona retiree, told The Hill that he’s increasingly concerned with the number and type of immigrants flowing into the country.

“We’ve had crime in this country forever, but I think we have a new dimension of crime,” Coleman said. “We get sold a bill of goods about what’s going on at the border by the national media.”

And new polls show that Coleman isn’t alone. Many voters ‘see immigration as an issue almost as critical to the future of the country as health care and education.’

However, concerned voters are almost exclusively conservative, their worries driven by a xenophobic administration and hot-button news issues.

A July Gallup poll showed that just over a fifth of voters said immigration is the most important issue facing the nation. Just last year, a scarce 4% replied the same.

“Illegal immigration is by far the top issue for Republicans in Arizona,” said Republican pollster Mark Noble. He says the GOP’s newfound focus is “clearly a move to motivate their base to turn out in November.”

The same critical sentiments extend to the race for Arizona’s governorship, too. The Democratic nominee, David Garcia, had scarcely come out of the primaries when incumbent Gov. Doug Ducey (R) began running advertisements condemning Garcia’s stance on migration.

“Public safety is a big part of the governor’s job, and in the state of Arizona there’s a clear contrast between myself and my opponent,” Ducey said in a recent interview. “We are on the front lines of what’s happening with drug cartels, with human trafficking, with child sex trafficking.”

Statistics coming out of Arizona aren’t encouraging, either.

The Hill reports that OH Predictive Insights found that 31% of Arizona voters believe immigration is the state’s biggest challenge—the same percentage as those who said public education. Only 13% suggested healthcare as a possibility.

“The reality is the border is an issue, and border security is national security, and it results directly in public safety in Arizona,” Ducey said.


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Steller column: GOP strategy plays out in attacks against David Garcia over immigration

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