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OPINION

Return of the Man Who Stopped Illegal Immigration

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Christian Chavez

With Joe Biden throwing open America’s borders and no help in sight, it’s nice to remember the good ole days when we stopped illegal immigration. I’m proud to have been part of that success back in the late 2000s in Arizona. I’m also pleased to announce the man who, more than any other, gets the credit for that success — he’s back after his hiatus from public life. Andrew Thomas has returned as a conservative filmmaker and the writer of a new Substack column, destined to become one of Substack’s more influential offerings.

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The Harvard Law-educated Thomas was Maricopa County Attorney (district attorney for the Phoenix metro area) from 2005 to 2010. He offered me a job as a Deputy County Attorney and Special Assistant. Because of his leadership, Maricopa County law enforcement successfully drove hordes of illegal immigrants out of Arizona for a while. This became a huge news story. Later, the establishment counterattacked as they did against President Donald Trump. But even local left-wing journalists admit Thomas was responsible for this fantastic rollback.

Elected in the same year then-citizen Donald Trump launched his TV show “The Apprentice,” Thomas campaigned for DA on a simple promise: “Stop illegal immigration.” He shocked nearly everyone by keeping that promise. When he ran for reelection four years later, one leftist

columnist for The Arizona Republic wrote, "On campaign pledge, there’s no doubting Thomas.” He even said Thomas “may be the only politician in Arizona — maybe the entire country — who did exactly what he told voters that he would do.” Thomas did this by persuading the state legislature, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and others to make and use new tools to fight this illegal influx. Soon illegal immigrants were streaming out of Arizona.

Thomas was overshadowed by other significant personalities in Arizona, such as Arpaio and Governor Jan Brewer. That’s why most Americans don’t realize he was the elected official, more than any other, who led the fight against illegal immigration. Arpaio followed Thomas’ lead. During Thomas’ first year in office, Arpaio’s deputies arrested Patrick Haab, a U.S. Army reservist, for detaining illegal immigrants at gunpoint at an Interstate rest stop. Thomas refused to prosecute Haab. Arpaio then publicly denounced Thomas.

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“Being illegal is not a serious crime,” Arpaio said at the time. “I’m not going to lock up illegals hanging around street corners.” The following year, Arpaio reversed course and joined Thomas in an effective law-enforcement partnership that turned the tide against the invasion.

Brewer was also a latecomer to the fight. She was always an establishment-backed pro-McCain RINO, which showed last year when she endorsed RINO gubernatorial candidate Karrin Kunasek Taylor Robson over MAGA all-star Kari Lake. But in 2009, Brewer felt the political winds and approved omnibus immigration crackdowns Thomas helped draft. The issue ensured her election in 2010.

Thomas didn’t fare as well because the Left correctly recognized him as the intellectual architect of the state’s immigration efforts and attacked accordingly. It’s now standard practice for leftist bar associations and establishment allies to try to disbar conservative attorneys who threaten the Left, especially those involved in politics. Lake’s attorneys have recently been victims of this trend, including Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. 

Thomas became the first target of this ruthless tactic. Thanks to Tracy Beanz of Uncover DC, you can read the full story here of how Thomas’ fight against illegal immigration, Maricopa County corruption (now famous to all patriots), and judicial activism culminated in outrageous but successful attacks on his law license (my career was collateral damage from these political assaults). Despite being supported by the Republican Party, acclaimed legal experts, and even leftist writers at The Republic, Thomas was put through a show trial and witch hunt rivaling anything done a decade later to Trump.

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Thomas’ first post on Substack is titled “The Fight They Gave Us.” It shares how he boldly and without fear pursued principled causes, unlike few other politicians, until the establishment resorted to an “evil and dishonest court ruling” that took his law license. Afterward, Thomas ran a strong race for governor of Arizona, then worked for a conservative think tank before moving to Texas with his family and withdrawing from public life.

After doing well there, he can turn to other pursuits. Thomas has started a film studio “to address Hollywood’s devastation of our culture.” Last year, I wrote about his documentary on canceled Christians, which has since won awards and recognition from Christian film festivals. His studio recently came out with its first feature film, available on streaming channels such as Amazon and Tubi, and is a number-one hit on the Christian Channel.

And he’s returned to writing. Thomas was well-known among conservative readers years ago before he entered politics. He wrote well-received books on Justice Clarence Thomas and other topics and regularly contributed to The Wall Street Journal and the other major right-leaning periodicals at the time. In his Substack column, Thomas says he’ll draw from his “years of political combat as well as writing books and articles on not just politics, but history, philosophy, religion and other helpful areas.” 

He adds bluntly that unlike so many other politicians and pundits writing these days, “The experience and insights I offer come from someone who never shaded his opinions, nor sold out his constituents, for self-gain.” Thomas also has posted a second thoughtful Substack column about the fight to secure the border.

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Thomas says we need a “counterrevolution.” If anyone knows how to wage one, it’s him — someone, who was MAGA before Trump. His brilliant and original writings will make conservatives and patriots think, and you can read them and sign up for free here. We’d show our support and gratitude for someone whose intelligent leadership and courage remain the gold standard.

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