City Hall

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon Enjoys Standing Ovation in Oklahoma for Blasting SB 1070, but Would They Have Cheered Him if They Knew He Approved Of a Similar Measure in Phoenix a Few Years Ago?

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon is center-stage in highlighting the evils of SB 1070. He has become a champion to many in the Latino community for publicly condemning the misguided law that makes it a crime for illegal immigrants to be in Arizona.

And he's milking it.

On Sunday, Gordon received a standing ovation from mayors across the country during a gathering of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Oklahoma for his tough condemnation of Arizona newest immigration law, according to the Oklahoman newspaper.

Gordon's voice is part of that rising tide of concern that this new law -- slated to take effect on July 29, unless an injunction comes about because of various lawsuits against it -- will give way to racial profiling and threaten the civil rights of legal residents and U.S. citizens.

But Gordon isn't the best spokesman for the movement against 1070 considering that a few years ago, he gave his stamp of approval to reverse Operation Order 1.4.3, a Phoenix police policy that prohibited local cops from asking people they encountered about their immigration status.

Gordon complains these days that the new Arizona law threatens the civil rights of citizens and legal immigrants, but where was his concern for civil rights a few years ago?

It was late 2007. Gordon had been running for re-election and still fancied
himself a future candidate for Arizona governor or Congress. A Phoenix police officer had
just been murdered
by a bad guy who turned out to be an illegal immigrant. Protests
at Pruitt's
Home Furnishings were at a fever pitch after the owner hired security officers to keep day laborers off his property. 

And Gordon, well, he just caved to political pressure from the police union and threats of a lawsuit by Judicial Watch, a Washington, D.C. think-tank.

Gordon approved the reversal of Operation Order 1.4.3, giving cops authority to question individuals accused of committing a crime about their immigration status and turn them over to immigration authorities. The mayor's then-newly adopted stance was characterized as
"cowardly" former state Senator Alfredo Gutierrez, a longtime political ally of Gordon.

"He has blinked, he has relented to the pressure. It is appropriate to review the policy," Gutierrez told the Arizona Republic of Gordon in a December 2007 article. "It is inappropriate -- frankly, it's cowardly -- to demand a review of it but begin by saying 'we already know the

When Gordon announced his new view of local cops enforcing federal immigration laws, a group of community leaders held a press conference across from Phoenix City Hall conndemning him. They weren't pleased to see Gordon dropping his support of that decades-old police department policy that prohibited officers from routinely questioning people about their immigration status.

The same people who he now stands arm-in-arm with in speaking out against SB 1070 are the ones who called his stance in 2007 unjust.

Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox was at that 2007 press conference, along
with lawmakers and representatives from Chicanos Por La Causa and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

"You cannot implement this policy without racial profiling," state Representative Steve Gallardo (D-Phoenix) was quoted as saying in the same December 2007 Republic article.

Gordon's may be roaring against 1070, but there is ironically so little difference between the Phoenix policy that Gordon approved less than three years ago and the new Arizona immigration law.

Mark Spencer, president of the Phoenix police union, told the Republict: "You won't even see
a ripple in the way Phoenix police operate. Because we have been operating under the main premise of the bill for the past two years. We have been test-driving this statute for the past two years with incredible success."

The main premise: Local cops with the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.

According to the Oklahoman, Gordon said he regrets not speaking out earlier and demanding the federal government address immigration reform in the United States.

Wonder if he has any other regrets? 

Maybe like his past endorsements of pro-1070 Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio or 1070
and state attorney general wanna-be Andrew Thomas? Or perhaps his ongoing endorsement of Senator John McCain who supports the new immigration law?

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Monica Alonzo
Contact: Monica Alonzo