Russell Pearce

Last week, I was the lone Republican to testify in a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing in Washington, DC. I was the lone voice in defense of Arizona’s SB-1070, a law I was proud to have written and worked for several years to pass. I didn’t mind facing off against senior Democrat U.S.Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and the other witnesses testifying against my bill. In politics, when you’re in the right, you’re never really alone.

Several people have asked me if I was surprised or disappointed that Arizona’s Senator Kyl decided not to attend his own subcommittee? After all, his presence would have doubled the number of voices speaking in support of SB-1070, passed by a majority of Arizona legislators, supported by a majority of Arizona voters, and signed into law by Arizona’s governor?

In truth, no. Senator Kyl understood this hearing was little more than political theater, a protest show staged by Democrats trying to inflame passions with angry rhetoric and score points in an election year more important than any in recent memory. Likewise, Governor Brewer was justified in not testifying. She signed SB1070 into law, but she didn’t write the bill with me, Kris Kobach, or the others who labored for years to finally pass this law. And had she been there, it truly would have been theater because she wears a much bigger political target on her chest than I do.

So why did I agree to testify? Why did I walk into the viper’s nest, knowing I would be surrounded on all sides by career politicians and their cameras? I traveled to Washington and debated Sens. Schumer and Durbin, and the other witnesses, because of the simple reason that I believe our side should never be afraid to stand up and speak what we believe.

In his opening remarks, Sen. Schumer impressed me by calling for solutions to three things that I, and most conservatives, have long called for: (1) ending illegal immigration; (2) fixing America’s broken immigration system; and (3) solving the problem of 23 million illegals currently living in the U.S.

Of course, Mr. Schumer and I differ on solutions to those problems. His calls for amnesty masked under the political rhetoric of “comprehensive immigration reform” ought to be a non-starter. American citizenship should not be rewarded to those who break the law. Similarly, Mr. Schumer’s argument that just as only a federal agency such as the IRS can interpret and enforce the tax code, as opposed to 50 separate state agencies, is irrelevant.


Russell Pearce

Russell Pearce served as President of the Arizona State Senate where he authored SB 1070. He is currently president of Ban Amnesty Now.