Spanish-Language Station Airs Story About Payson's Immigration Ordinance



That's how one Valley television station characterized Payson on Friday when a news crew drove up to do a story on a possible town ordinance cracking down on illegal immigration.


Univision 33 reporter Victor Rodriguez, carrying a Payson Roundup article he pulled from the Internet, interviews Police Chief Gordon Gartner Friday.

Univision 33 reporter Victor Rodriguez and camera man Jenaro Delgadillo spent several hours in Payson Friday after hearing the town was considering an ordinance to take away business licenses from employers who hire undocumented workers and penalize landlords who rent to them.

Univision is a Spanish-language station broadcast on Channel 47 on Cablevision. The piece aired at 5 p.m. Friday.

Rodriguez, carrying a Payson Roundup article he pulled from the Internet, spoke with the community development department, Police Chief Gordon Gartner and Mayor Bob Edwards.

Town Attorney Sam Streichman declined the station's request for an interview.

Rodriguez said the recent article on illegal immigration shows the Town of Payson is radical.

He said he was able to go to a construction site and interview a few workers who were working and living in the town illegally.

He was surprised that Payson's stance appears to be that illegal immigrants are not welcome in the town.

The topic is and has been a hot button issue, he said, and added he wanted to tell his viewers about the possible ordinance the town legal department is drafting.

When the police chief was asked what he thought of legislation that is being pushed by Rep. Russell Pierce from the Arizona House of Representatives, about making law enforcement responsible for illegal immigrants, Gartner said he was not sure his department has the resources to take on the additional responsibility.

Rodriguez also wanted to know if it concerned the police chief that illegal immigrants would be wary of coming forward to report a crime for fear of being deported.

"We want to explore what is going on today in Payson," Rodriguez said. "Immigration is a hot issue in Arizona with anti-illegal immigration bills (being proposed)." He mentioned that four immigration bills were approved in the last session.

"(Our viewers) want to know what is going on," he said.

Mayor Edwards stressed that the Payson Town Council has nothing against Mexican nationals or illegal immigrants as people.

"What we are looking at is an even playing field," he said.

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