Widow of slain officer supports immigrant rights

Julie Erfle

Almost five years ago, Julie Erfle’s husband, a Phoenix police officer, was shot and killed in the line of duty by an undocumented immigrant who had previously been deported.

The death of Nick Erfle was a catalyst for anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona. But Julie Erfle, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Phoenix, became an outspoken advocate for migrants’ rights.

Nick Erfle had survived two bouts of cancer. Jule Erfle, a journalist, had been focused on healthcare reform. After his death, she shifted her focus to immigration reform.

“I decided after eight months to become public with my views on immigration. When I came forward, I said we needed comprehensive immigration reform to public safety and humanity on equal footing,” Erfle said.

It was not the message that proponents of restrictive immigration policy expected from the widow of a slain police officer. However, it is the message she has put forth ever since, speaking publicly and maintaining her blog, Politics Uncuffed, which she describes as “a source of reasoned debate to elevate our discussions in a thoughtful and informed manner while seeking solutions to complex problems.”

She speaks out to educate the uninformed. And Erfle urged attendees at the Wednesday afternoon session, “In the Political Crossfires,” to debunk immigration myths that they hear. “So many people don’t understand the issue, because all we hear are the myths.”

Erfle said that when people repeat the mythic phrase, “What part of illegal don’t you understand,” they should respond, “What part of legal don’t you understand?” The visa system is a complex as the tax code, she said.

And when people ask “Why can’t immigrants become legal citizens the right way” or “stand in the back of the line,” they should counter with the fact that “there is no line.”

“We need people to consistently say, “You’re wrong. I’m sorry. There is no line. What you are saying is not true. We need to reshape the message.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/tracy.avent Tracy L Avent

    If you think that the “alien” issue is so simple, consider this: among the TEA party and various splinters of the GOP right wing, there are at least thousands, if not tens of thousands of very vocal political elements who insist that Barack Obama is not a citizen. Their motive for holding this position, ultimately, is not about morals nor ethics, nor legal interpretations, but merely as a means to regard him as an “illegitimate President”. If this can happen with the guy who occupies the White House, it is a lead pipe cinch that “politics” can also influence the regarded status of migrant mestizo laborers.

    “Mestizo” is a Mexican Spanish dialectic for “mixed” which implies that most of them are descendants of native tribes who have inhabited the US Southwest and Mexican North, for around 8000 years. The notion that they are “illegal” really reflects the arrogance of the US Legal system, more than it makes any statements about the morals or ethics of Mestizo labor.

    In this specific circumstance, apparently such a person (whose racial background may not really be very relevant) killed a cop. I do not know anything more about the story than that, but obviously the cop’s widow knows enough, and she is still sympathetic the plight of migrant laborers.

    One other thing: George W. Bush, while he was in the White House, tried to introduce at least one bill to Congress, about immigration reform and temporary worker permits, so that these laborers could actually enter the US, be documented, have civil rights, recognition of status, and be able to return to their families without risking their lives to cross the border. His own party killed the bill.

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