Among those disappointed by Republican Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake's recent about face on immigration is Julie Erfle, the widow of slain Phoenix Police Officer Nick Erfle.
You'll recall that Officer Erfle was murdered in 2007 by an ex-con with an outstanding warrant who was in the country illegally. Erfle and his partner had stopped the man for jaywalking. After killing the eight-year police vet, the suspect fled, took a hostage, and was ultimately shot dead by police.
Officer Erfle's name has been regularly invoked by the anti-immigrant crowd to support everything from Senate Bill 1070 to National Guard troops on the border.
But Julie Erfle has bravely stood apart, finding a middle ground for herself. She supported a change in Phoenix's Operations Order to allow cops more leeway in contacting federal authorities concerning those here illegally. Later, she opposed SB 1070 as restrictive and contradictory in its mandates.
She remains a stalwart supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, and has taken a lot of flak for her stance.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with her about a related issue, and she mentioned that she had just begun a new blog, politicsuncuffed.com.
"For me, it's the idea of approaching politics, and instead of approaching it from a particular partisan point of view, approaching it from a solution, a solution-oriented approach to policy," she explained.
Erfle has a background in journalism, having worked in promotions and as a media buyer for local TV channels, so it's no shock that her opinion pieces on her blog are very well written.
I happen to agree with her position on gun control, or the lack thereof, in Arizona, and with her opinion of Congressman Flake's flip-flop on immigration.
"While many progressives claimed they weren't surprised by the move, I found myself stunned and deeply saddened. I have spent a great deal of time following Mr. Flake's statements on immigration. I have held him up as a model of intelligent discourse on the complexities of immigration reform and the realities of what it would take to bring about a solution. I truly believed that when or if an immigration reform bill passed through Congress, Representative Flake would be the one spearheading it."
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I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised either. In his effort to replace outgoing U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, Flake will have to get through a GOP primary. His run to the right on immigration is carefully calculated.
But, like Erfle, I had hoped -- naively -- that Flake would stick to his heretofore vocal support for comprehensive immigration reform. As the Dems have little influence in this reddest of states, it's up to the Republicans to move the debate on immigration toward the middle and away from the ongoing chorus of hate.
I still admire Flake for his past positions on immigration. I just wish he could be as "uncuffed" as Julie Erfle is in her new blog.