The true victim...
Is Laurie Roberts trying to sprout a conscience? Does she no longer wish to be the Repugnant's soccer-momish Queen of Mean? On Wednesday, she was decrying ASU Prez Michael Crow for using private donations to fund undocumented students. She claimed Crow was thumbing his nose at the will of the electorate, who passed Prop 300 overwhelmingly, thus denying in-state tuition to these "illegal" scholars.
Now Roberts, having received suggestions from her readers that she "stock up on the cigs, booze and saturated fats," has decided to prove to the world that she's not the Wicked Bitch of the West, as I called her Wednesday in response to her column. Today she writes of the plight of students like Jose, Jesus, and Daniel who are illegal in status despite being average American teens who want to go to college and make something of themselves. Roberts has a radical suggestion -- private donations! And to the ASU Foundation, no less! But isn't that what Michael Crow was handing out? Oh, no, Roberts' private donations would be different because they would be specifically earmarked for illegal students.
Whatever, Laurie. You're still essentially siding with AZ State Treasurer Dean Martin's suggestion that what Crow's doing is illegal. (It's not, despite arguments to the contrary.) You've helped put a spotlight on these funds, and now you've got every nativist in the Valley ranting about Crow helping illegals.
"They're innocent bystanders in a national uproar over illegal immigration," you write of Jose, Jesus and Daniel. "In Arizona, the uproar was ratcheted up a notch this week after ASU President Michael Crow announced that the school is steering donations of general scholarship money to undocumented students."
Hey, Laurie, look in the mirror. You're the friggin' one ratcheting up things. You're the one who uses her column to pander to the anti-immigrant wackos. You're the one who wants Crow to stop helping these kids. And now you want us to believe you have an inkling of compassion?
Ok, I'll give you that. An inkling. That's about it. You've obviously been stung by the criticism, and so now you've fashioned this Saturday-morning backtrack to prove that, see, your heart isn't as black as obsidian after all. You mention in passing on your blog that you're in favor of The Dream Act, and this somehow allows you to vilify Crow for trying to assist undocumented students? Hey, keep slicing the salami as thin as you want, Laurie. You're only convincing yourself, if that.
So, get this, I call over to Kimberly Yee, AZ State Treasurer Dean Martin's flack, and ask her why, when Martin was first asked about what Crow's doing in directing private funds to undocumented scholars, he told The Arizona Republic that,
"Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for them, and this is exactly what we were looking for. I don't have a problem with them going after private money, just don't use taxpayer money. That's all I care about."
Then a couple of days later he's telling Laurie Roberts that Crow may be in violation of the law (Prop 300). A couple more days later, and he's asking the AZ Board of Regents to investigate the matter. Not that Martin has any authority over this issue. But why the flip-flop that I talked about in Dean Martin's war on Hispanic students...?
Yee gets back to me with a statement from Martin wherein he says,
"My position is clear, public monies cannot be used to subsidize illegals, no matter the source of the funds. If you donate to ASU $1000 to buy gifts for legislators, that does not mean ASU can ignore the law and buy gifts just because the money was donated privately."
As for the flip-flop, Martin does not say he was quoted inaccurately, rather that he did not know at the time the technicalities of how these funds were being distributed.
I don't buy Martin's contention that these private donations turn into little pumpkins once they're distributed to undocumented scholars. And I find his analogy of buying off state legislators to be very curious, considering the fact that he had his own well-publicized ethics problems when he was a State Senator. The Rep revealed that Martin, in 2005, had taken $1000 in free meals from lobbyists. And in 2004, local, indie researchers revealed that Martin had paid around $12K to his own printing business, and thousands more to his wife's PR firm, all from campaign donations. There's more on Martin's campaign finance juggling, here.
Martin rationalized it all to the press at the time, and I reckon it's legal. But so what if it is, it still stinks. And Martin's worried about ASU giving private funds to illegals who've grown up here, gone to HS here, and want to go to college here? Martin has some funny ideas about bookkeeping. When private funds are given to ASU they magically become public funds. And, at least in the cases cited above, when he receives campaign contributions, it's OK if they go to his own firm for print work and to his wife's firm for PR work. Can I borrow that magic wand for a minute, Dino? Maybe I can start writing off my bar tab as a "charitable contribution" to myself.
I went by the Phoenix PD Friday and picked up a copy of the police report dealing with Virginia Gutierrez, the 18-year-old recently sent back to Mexico after being popped for using an allegedly fake Mexican I.D. to get her car out of impound. Gutierrez is stuck in Chihuahua, Mexico now, but as recently as August, she was planning to go to ASU and had secured private scholarships to assist her in this. I don't know for certain, but I believe she was one of the students ASU's Crow was helping with private donations.
The police report makes for short, sad reading. She goes into the PHX PD HQ on Washington Street in Downtown about 10 a.m., and presents her I.D. to get a vehicle release form. (Her car was impounded after she was stopped for not having her headlights on.) The officer took her I.D., and noticed "no security features and laminate." According to the report, she was then arrested, read her rights, and questioned briefly:
Q: Where did you get the I.D. from? Silence. A: Do I have the right to remain silent?
Q: How much did you pay for it? A: Not a lot.
Q: Did you use it to get the car in your name? A: No, I used [my] consular card.
Q: How long have you lived in the U.S.? A: 9 Years.
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Q: Are you a U.S. citizen? A: No.
Q: Are you still a Mexico citizen? A: Yes.
Q: Did you know the I.D. was false? Silence, tears.
In the report, there's a place for "Victim Information," where the name of the "victim" is given as the State of Arizona. I would suggest the victim in this case is actually Virginia, a resident of the U.S. for half her life, who has grown up here, was a model student, and has now been booted from the country by a set of laws written to punish the weak and the meek. More to come on Virginia as I learn it. I'm putting in a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to learn more about how Virginia was convinced to sign voluntary return paperwork.