Updated: April 20, 2010, New York Times:
"Russell Pearce is the Arizona state senator who wrote one of the most stringent immigration laws in the United States. The law, which passed on April 19, 2010, marked a new level of influence for a Republican state senator who not long ago was seen by many as an eccentric firebrand..."
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"Mr. Pearce's son, a Maricopa County sheriff's deputy, was shot and wounded in 2004 by an illegal immigrant, and Mr. Pearce, a former sheriff's deputy, was shot and wounded while arresting gang members 20 years ago, he has said. Some have speculated that the events have inspired Mr. Pearce's anti-immigration legislation.
Mr. Pearce, 62, cannot be dismissed as just the party's right-wing fringe. As chairman of the Senate's appropriation committee, he controls whose bills are financed, and he has shown an uncanny knack to capitalize on this border state's immigration anxiety. Mr. Pearce managed to win unanimous support for the bill from House Republicans, even from some moderates who had voiced misgivings about it. The Senate approved the measure 17 to 11.
Mr. Pearce, whose district is in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb, has long been considered a politically incorrect embarrassment by more moderate members of his party — often to the delight of his supporters. In 2007, he appeared in a widely circulated photograph with a man who was a featured speaker at a neo-Nazi conference. (Mr. Pearce said later he did not know of the man's affiliation with the group.) In 2006, he came under fire for speaking admirably of a 1950s federal deportation program called Operation Wetback, and for sending an e-mail message to supporters that included an attachment — inadvertently, he said — from a white supremacist group."
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[See full article at link to the New York Times in the above.]