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.
Critics, however, charge Wong with simply using a hot-button issue to gain notoriety and votes.
“Everyone is seeing the polls that are so anti-immigrant, and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon to target immigrants,” said Julie Pace, a lawyer currently suing the state over a law punishing businesses that hire illegal immigrant help.
“They all are coming up with novel ideas how they can get elected. They say, ‘Target immigrants, and it helps me win an election.'”
Wong believes his idea deserves further study.
“The question is: Is it the right thing to do in terms of rates?” Wong, a former four-term member of the state’s House of Representatives, told the paper.