Two more Republican candidates running for state Assembly on the Central Coast have endorsed Arizona’s immigration law, although they stopped short of saying that California should have such a law itself.
San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Katcho Achadjian and Paso Robles City Councilman Fred Strong both say they support the concept behind Arizona’s controversial law requiring police to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they’re in the country illegally.
However, both candidates add, such acts must be conducted without violating the U.S. Constitution.
San Luis Obispo financial planner Matt Kokkonen first supported the Arizona law last week and called out his Republican challengers in the June 8 primary race to succeed Sam Blakeslee in the 33rd Assembly District. Former Santa Maria Planning Commissioner Etta Waterfield quickly joined him.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Tribune
The lone Democrat in the race, Santa Maria City Councilwoman Hilda Zacarias, said the federal government needs to fix the nation’s immigration problem, but the Arizona law invites racial profiling.
It means that “everywhere in the U.S. except Arizona we have freedom of movement. That’s not America,” Zacarias said.
The Arizona law requires police who have a “reasonable suspicion” that someone is in the country illegally to determine the person’s status and arrest those without documents.
Arizona officials have said they had to act on immigration because the federal government has failed to do so.
Nonetheless, the Arizona law has come under heavy attack from constitutional scholars who say it violates the “probable cause” part of the Fourth Amendment. Others in both major political parties also have opposed it, including Blakeslee.
Critics say the new law will lead to Hispanics, citizens or not, being accosted simply because they are Hispanic.
The Fourth Amendment reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Although all five criticized the federal government for dawdling on immigration reform, Zacarias is the sole candidate in the Assembly election to outright oppose the Arizona law.
Achadjian said that “as a legal immigrant myself, I find it offensive that millions of people have jumped in line ignoring legal requirements to get into this great country of ours.”
He called the U.S. “the most humanitarian country in the world,” but he added that “our country’s generosity should not be taken for granted.”
“This is wrong and something needs to be done about it within the means of our Constitution and Fourth Amendment. I do support laws that deal with violators of all kinds,” Achadjian wrote in an e-mail to The Tribune.
Achadjian added that “California’s budget deficit is fueled in part by the $10 billion we spend every year on illegal immigrant services.
“We definitely need to secure our borders, remove magnet services that draw outsiders to California, and deport all illegals who are in violation of the law to their country of origin,” he wrote.
“I support the action of enforcing the law,” said Strong, “as I do the enforcement of all laws. Conflicts within the specific Arizona law will have to be settled through our judicial system.”
Strong wrote that “hopefully, it will spur the federal government to proceed with the enforcement of its own laws in an effective and consistent manner.”
Kokkonen had said that “the new Arizona law should be a model for every state, including California.”