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Ducey, Duval share priorities, differences for approaching immigration

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PHOENIX – The two major-party candidates for Arizona governor agree on a few things when it comes to the contentious issue of immigration:

• The federal government hasn’t done enough to deal with challenges such as cross-border crime.

• Arizona must work with the federal government on solutions.

• Voters care about the issue.

One key area where Republican Doug Ducey and Democrat Fred DuVal differ is issuing driver’s licenses to young immigrants with work permits under the Obama administration’s deferred-action program.

A 2012 executive order from Gov. Jan Brewer denied driver’s licenses, saying that employment authorization permits don’t constitute proof of legal U.S. residency needed to obtain an Arizona driver’s license. Forty-eight states issue driver’s licenses to deferred-action recipients.

In July, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered an injunction requiring Arizona to issue the licenses. In response Brewer released a statement saying, “The American people are tired and disgusted by what is happening through our federal government today, but they can be assured Arizona will continue to fight for the rule of law.” Brewer said she is looking for a way to appeal.

In an interview with Cronkite News, Ducey simply said: “I will continue Governor Brewer’s executive order on that issue.”

DuVal told Cronkite News he sees this as the biggest difference between his and Ducey’s campaigns.

“I’ll tell you what I will do on the first day, and that is that I will repeal this mean-spirited prohibition of driver’s licenses for the DREAMers,” he said.

Both candidates said that immigration policy is failing at the federal level, although they disagree on the best way to enact change.

“I would give our federal government a failing grade,” said Ducey, the state treasurer. “So many of the lingering issues around this topic are a result of our federal government not dealing with it, and there is plenty of blame to go around. This isn’t just one party – both parties have not acted on this very real issue.”

A former member of the Arizona Board of Regents, DuVal said he would also give Washington an F.

“Leaders of both parties have failed the border states, have failed Arizona and have failed the country on this issue,” he said. “We need a comprehensive bill passed that addresses our security needs, our economic needs and our cultural needs, and the time to do it is now.”

DuVal said he believes that it immigration reform needs to be done comprehensively and supports offering a path to citizenship as outlined in a bipartisan bill authored in part by U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain of Arizona. That bill is stalled on Capitol Hill.

“I think it is done best all at once because there are considerations all across a wide variety of topics,” DuVal said.

Ducey said he believes in a more methodical approach.

“I think comprehensive immigration reform is what comes after border security,” he said. “I think there are real issues around immigration that we can solve first. Let’s do it step-by-step and let’s do it with a sense of urgency.”

John Hultgren, a lecturer in politics and international affairs at Northern Arizona University, said that although immigration is a key issue for voters the result of the governor’s race might have little effect on policy outcome.

“Both emphasize that the federal government is failing, both have talked about cross-border crime, both have talked about strengthening of the National Guard,” Hultgren said. “I think we would see similar policy enacted after the election regardless of who was voted in because most of the differences between the candidates’ views are rhetorical.”

Hultgren also said that in reality there is only so much that a governor can do.

“I think this is a little bit of a disconnect for Arizona voters. Voters want to hear the candidates talking tough, but in the end they won’t be able to change much,” he said. “Most of the power is at the federal level, and a governor is somewhat constrained in what they can do.”

Both candidates said they recognize the need to work with the federal government while cracking down on cross-border crime.

Ducey said that public safety is the first role of the governor.

“I really come at this from the people that this affected. I am talking about Brian Terry’s family – he was a Border Patrol agent that was murdered on the border. I am talking about Sue Krentz, whose husband was murdered on his ranch at the southern border,” he said. “A governor can work with all of these law enforcements assets to have a more secure border.”

DuVal agrees that security is a major issue in immigration reform.

“Going after the bad actors, the cartels and the smugglers is one of the things a governor can do. Properly resourcing our state police is certainly a part of what a governor can actually do,” DuVal said. “Advocating with other governors for a comprehensive solution is something a governor should do.”