Donald Trump heads to Arizona Saturday for a rally on immigration and border security as the real estate mogul continues to face national fallout over his controversial remarks on immigration. But some people will be conspicuously absent from Saturday’s event, namely, top Republican leaders in the state, who say Trump’s views on immigration shouldn’t receive any support from the party.
GOP leaders in Arizona, the state that notoriously passed one of the most restrictive immigration laws in the country in 2010, have criticized Trump for his June comments, in which he painted Mexican immigrants as criminals and vowed to erect a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected president. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, along with Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain, will not be attending Saturday’s event, the Arizona Republic reported Friday.
The rally, hosted by Republican Party of Maricopa County, will be featuring another big name, however: Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is widely known for aggressive raids against undocumented immigrants and brands himself as “America’s toughest sheriff.”
Ducey, Flake and McCain have all distanced themselves from Trump’s rhetoric. This week Flake told the Washington Post he called the chairman of Maricopa’s GOP chapter to call off its sponsorship of the rally. “I don’t think that [Trump’s] views are reflective of the party, particularly in Arizona, a border state,” he said. The chairman, Tyler Bowyer, declined, saying the party would be “thrilled” to host the billionaire and other Republican candidates for events in Arizona, according to the Washington Post.
Sen. McCain also hit back against Trump’s remarks this week during an appearance on MSNBC. “I guarantee you the overwhelming majority [of Arizonans] do not agree with his attitude [that] he has displayed toward our Hispanic citizens. We love them,” he said.
Gov. Ducey, who previously received Arpaio’s endorsement in his campaign for governor, will be out of town Saturday but has no plans to meet or speak with Trump privately, the Arizona Republic reported.
Trump’s campaign said this week the immigration rally had to relocate to the Phoenix Convention Center due to an “overwhelming response” from thousands of people clamoring to attend the event. It was previously scheduled to take place at the Arizona Biltmore Resort Spa.
Arizona surged to the forefront of national immigration politics in 2010 when former Gov. Jan Brewer signed a deeply controversial law that made it a crime to transport or house undocumented immigrants and allowed for law enforcement to check a person’s immigration status during routine stops. Supporters of the law said the measures were necessary to enforce immigration policies the federal government was failing to uphold. The move unleashed widespread outcry among immigrant advocacy groups while also spurring several other states to attempt passing their own versions of the law. In 2012, the Supreme Court struck down several provisions of the law but kept the so-called “papers, please” provision intact.
Trump is still facing repercussions for his immigration remarks: Several television networks, including NBC Universal and Univision, severed their ties to his Miss Universe Organization after the remarks. Mattress company Serta also announced it would end its business with the Trump organizations. Trump has refused to backtrack on his comments, however, saying this week that “making America great is more important to me than my company.”