As we reported earlier this week, immigration has made its way back as a front-burner election issue, thanks in large part to the new law in Arizona that allows police to probe people’s immigration status.

Our story detailed the Santa Ana City Council’s vote to denounce the Arizona law and a curious press conference by Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor in which he seemed to be pushing for changes in Costa Mesa similar to those in Arizona.

An LA Times story today analyzes how the issue is playing in the GOP primary race for one of California’s U.S. Senate seats, which includes Irvine Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.

While the issue is red meat for the staunch conservative DeVore, it is somewhat more dicey for his opponents, Tom Campbell, a former congressman from the Bay Area, and Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. All three have asserted varying degrees of support for the law.

From the Times story:

With five weeks to go before the primary, the issue already has proven volatile. Both the Fiorina and DeVore campaigns have questioned the authenticity of Campbell’s position on the Arizona law.

DeVore has blasted Fiorina for “flip-flopping” on immigration issues and for refusing to take a position on Proposition 187, the 1994 California ballot measure that would have denied public education and social services to illegal immigrants.

As with the issue of healthcare, immigration imposes on the three Republican contenders a difficult dilemma — how to appeal to conservative Republicans who are the most reliable primary voters without alienating independents who would be crucial to defeating Boxer this fall.

“Almost by definition, candidates who deliver a message on this issue that is acceptable to the base run the risk of driving away voters in the political center,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC…

…Few were surprised by DeVore’s backing of the Arizona law, because he supported Proposition 187. DeVore drew applause at a recent “tea party” event in Rolling Hills Estates when he defended the Arizona law as a “cry for help” and said he believed officers would avoid racial profiling.

“If there are a bunch of people standing in front of a Home Depot looking for day jobs, and a police officer walks up to them and says ‘Hi, how’s it going?’ and they look nervous and they can’t respond in English — well then you probably have reasonable suspicion to ask them for their papers,” DeVore told the Peninsula Patriots.


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