Today, President Obama delivered a speech at American University making the case for comprehensive immigration reform that secures the border, overhauls our broken legal entry system, and provides a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who work hard and play by the rules. The New York Daily News reports that Republican Barry Wong, a candidate for the Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates the state’s public utilities, has a different solution for our broken immigration system. Wong wants his state’s government to first check the immigration status of all Arizona utility customers and then cut off all utility services to any customers who are undocumented — including electricity and water:
One Arizona politician has made a vow to make illegal immigrants powerless — literally. Republican Barry Wong, a candidate for the Arizona Corporation Commission, an elected body that decides public utility issues, says he would require the utilities to check the immigration status of customers, he told the Arizona Republic.
“I’m sure there will be criticism about human-rights violations,” said Wong, who held a temporary spot on the five-person Commission in 2006. “Is power or natural gas or any type of utility we regulate, is that a right that people have? It is not a right. It is a service.” Cutting electricity, water, natural gas, even telephone lines at the homes of illegal immigrants, he said, would lower costs for the rest of the state’s customers. He believes the population spike caused by illegal immigrants forces the state to build new power plants and then raise rates for customers.
As the Wonk Room’s Andrea Nill writes, “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.”