Candidate and grandson of Chinese immigrants wants to shut off utilities to undocumented immigrants

Barry Wong (R-AZ), a candidate for the Arizona Corporation Commission “” which is responsible for final decisions on granting or denying utility rate adjustment, among other things “” wants to save utility customers from future rate hike by shutting off the power, and other utilities, to undocumented immigrants.  Wonk Room has the “just when you think they can’t get any nuttier or more heartless” story.

Wong, who is the grandson of Chinese immigrants, explained that his plan would require utility companies to verify the immigration status of new customers and weed out existing customers in the country illegally:

“We shoulder and we all share the costs,” said Wong, who is running for a seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission. “Granted they pay for it, but as we use more electricity overall then utilities will have to eventually build more power plants.” […] “The [state] constitution gives the Corporation Commission specific authority to deal with rate-making which is setting the price that we pay for the electric, natural gas, telephone service, private water companies,” Wong said. […]

Wong said he would give customers plenty of advance noticed before any utilities are shut off. “You wouldn’t shut down somebody’s power the next day. You put people on notice,” Wong said. “I think they have to make their own decisions. It’s an individual responsibility of how they’re going to take care of it themselves without the utility.”

Watch it:

Wong’s opponents, two Republicans and three Democrats, have said that asking utilities to check customers’ immigration status is “inappropriate.” Even state Sen. Russell Pierce (R-AZ), the man who sponsored Arizona’s new immigration law and wants to deny citizenship to “anchor babies” doesn’t necessarily back Wong’s proposal. “That’s not an argument I think we’ll involve ourselves in,” said Pierce. The president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce had harsher words to offer. “Today is the third day in a row when Phoenix-area temperatures will reach 110 degrees or higher. Since you’re a native Phoenician, I don’t need to remind you of the peril our state’s most vulnerable residents face in our summer heat. To deny someone access to electricity based on his or her immigration status is not only a wrongheaded policy proposal, it’s just cruel,” wrote Glenn Hamer.

A spokesman from APS, the state’s largest electric utility, has stated “we are not even sure how we would implement a policy like this.” Chances are implementation would involve providing utility companies with highly sensitive personal identification information such as social security numbers. Privacy concerns aside, Wong has also not considered the costs associated with verifying the legal status of utility customers. When Colorado passed a series of stringent measures requiring applicants for most state benefits to prove their immigration status, it cost the state $2 million in its first year alone. Checking the immigration status of utility customers would cost astronomically more since almost every resident is probably a user of electricity. And if the recently approved law, SB-1070, succeeds in driving out the state’s undocumented immigrants, such a measure would generate little to no cost-saving effect.

In order for Wong’s proposal to be implemented the plan would have to be analyzed, go through a public hearing, and be approved by the majority of the five member commission.

— This is a Wonk Room cross-post.

12 Responses to Candidate and grandson of Chinese immigrants wants to shut off utilities to undocumented immigrants

  1. FishEagle says:

    See this is exactly what I meant with environmentalists having too many ideals, if they think they can provide for the entire human race AND save the world from an environmental catastrophe at the same time. Talk about a moment of “just when you think they can’t get any more nuttier.”

    [JR: Better too many ideals, than none at all.]

  2. Richard Brenne says:

    I guess Wong (rhymes with Wrong) has done the math and found that while illegal aliens don’t vote, sadists do.

    “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’M free. . .”

  3. catman306 says:

    What would stop an illegal immigrant from finding a legal resident (perhaps a relative) who would be willing to put the bill in their name? A legal resident can only have electric service at one address? Nonsense! Problem solved.

    Heartless bastards, and STUPID, too!

  4. lizardo says:

    The fewer people to pay for those new power plants the more the “legal” customers will pay.

    As for the potential argument, “but without these people we wouldn’t need new power plants” I would say that a lot of empty real estate is running the heat in winter, AC in summer, and a lot else besides. When a realtor goes to show you a place to buy or rent the power is nearly always on.

    This is not just cruel, it’s the silliest thing I’ve heard yet.

    Clearly this joker wants to establish his cred with the wing-nuts and is simply using the area he’s aiming at to get votes.

    It’s already clear the utilities would fight this hard.

    In my state (NC) it takes an informant to shut down an energy-intensive indoor marijuana grow operation. The cops use the utility bill to get the warrant to protect the informant but the utilities don’t turn people in, because they are happy to sell you more power, because the higher the demand the greater the justification for a new very expensive and thus very profitable addition to the rate base. They are always looking to add customers to their service area. I’m sure here they’d be horrified at losing ‘em.

  5. FishEagle says:

    JR, I’d say stick with the one ideal, which is saving the world from an environmental catastrophe. Surely that has become so critical at this point that we can’t afford the luxury of attempts to ‘save’ the entire world population too (which happens to be doing quite dandy, considering the future projected population growth is in developing countries).

    [JR: Yes, well, that’s the focus. But along the way, we need to retain our humanity.]

  6. FishEagle says:

    JR, not only are you undermining the direness of the situation, but you are undermining the humanity in people that made sacrifices and provided for their children. Is there still any wonder why the world is up in arms about climate change and subsequently denying the phenomenon?

    [JR: This is more incoherent than Lindsey Graham. Congrats.]

  7. Daniel Ives says:

    RE FishEagle,

    It’s not nutty for environmentalists to attempt to “provide for the entire human race and save the world from an environmental catastrophe at the same time,” because the two can be largely achieved with the same solution. For example, large scale deployment of renewable energy can provide cleaner air and sustainable electricity for the human race while also helping to avert environmental catastrophe.

  8. FishEagle says:

    Daniel Ives,

    That’s very true. But in the context of this discussion JR was not arguing for the large-scale deployment of renewable energy to the undocumented immigrants. He was arguing against shutting off the existing power supply. You need to be able to make that distinction.

    There should be a focus on the large scale deployment of renewable energy now.

  9. Jim Groom says:

    I can hardly wait to see what happens to this idiot in November. I can’t imagine that the citizens of Arizona will put this cretin into office. Wonderful idea he has regarding the creation of the ‘electricity police.’ Maybe he is actually on to something…full employment in Arizona going door to door turning off meters.

  10. FishEagle says:

    JR, please explain why my argument is ‘incoherent’ because I used the following logic:

    While you want to provide electricity from an existing electricity supply
    You want to large scale deployment of renewable energy to people
    There is only X amount of money going around
    If you spend any money on something other than large scale deployment of renewable energy, that means there is less money going for the large scale deployment of renewable energy.
    So you would be undermining the direness off the situation by spending money on something other than the crisis
    That’s basic math and as a scientist I don’t doubt you get it

    There are people that have made sacrifices to be able to provide for their children
    It requires humanity to make sacrifices to be able to provide for your children
    There are people that are not able to provide for their children
    There is no humanity in people that have children when they are not able to provide for them
    It is these people that are not able to provide for their children that become ‘undocumented immigrants’ in your country
    (you would be hard pressed to find rich and wealthy ‘undocumented immigrants’ that won’t pay their electricity bills)
    So by using your resources to support these people, you are taking away resources from providing renewable energy to people that have made sacrifices to provide for their children.
    You are undermining the humanity of those people that made sacrifices to provide for their children.
    They are the people that should be supporting your renewable energy campaign!

    And how is that going for you?

    [JR: This is not only incoherent. It doesn’t have anything to do with the original post or any of my comments or what I argue on CP. You look to be a concern troll.

    FYI, clean energy requires very little net investment. It doesn’t displace other investments.]

  11. FishEagle says:

    JR, With regards to the relevance of my comments, your post opened the topics of illegal immigrants, humanity, resource prioritization and electricity utilization. In what way did my comments refer to anything but these issues???


    [JR: Enough with the ad-homs. My post was about an inane and heartless policy proposal that had no bearing whatsoever on virtually every one of the issues that you raised.]

  12. FishEagle says:

    Well I made the point that you were trying to provide for the entire human race – even electricity for illigeal citizens – and save the world from an environmental catastrophe i.e. global warming, which was too ambitious. I gathered the comments wouldn’t be published so I gave you an honest opinion about issues that didn’t relate to the topic. I should have mailed them to you directly. My apologies for the ad-hom attacks.