A photo of Richard Carmona, wearing his uniform and medals.

Photo: Tim NH / Flickr

On Monday, Dr. Richard Carmona, the 17th Surgeon General of the United States, released the following statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling on SB 1070:

For decades, politicians in Washington have talked about this problem, but nothing ever gets done and Arizonans continue to shoulder the burden of a broken immigration system. SB 1070 is a product of the federal government’s failure to act. Today’s ruling does not help us secure the border, and it does not provide a solution for the 400,000 undocumented people living in Arizona.”

“As a deputy sheriff of a border county, I’ve witnessed first hand the human cost of not having a workable solution. I’ve seen the results of the violence and drugs, and I know the terrible toll that has taken on our community. But SB 1070 doesn’t help local law enforcement fix the problem. It’s a distraction that hinders our ability to build trust with the communities we serve.

SB 1070, also called Arizona SB 1070, requires anyone in the country (over age 14) for more than 30 days to register with the US government and carry papers at all times. Not having documents is a misdemeanor crime. More importantly, the new law “requires that state law enforcement officers attempt to determine an individual’s immigration status during a “lawful stop, detention or arrest”, or during a “lawful contact” not specific to any activity[9] when there is reasonable suspicion that the individual is an illegal immigrant.[10]” Dr. Carmona, who is critical of the new law, further states:

Our immigration problems are complex, but the solutions are simple: secure the border, develop a pathway to earn legal status and enact the DREAM Act. Leadership on this issue takes courage, but it also requires politicians to stop using immigration as a wedge issue to score political points.

It wasn’t long ago that two diametrically opposed leaders — President George W. Bush and the late Senator Ted Kennedy — came together to try to solve the problem. There was even a time when Senator John McCain and Congressman Jeff Flake favored a comprehensive approach that was practical and fair. It’s going to take a more honest debate and the political will to get it done – and that’s what’s been missing in Washington.

As a Hispanic who has served his border community for many years as both a doctor and as a Deputy Sheriff, Dr. Carmona offers both unique perspective and experience regarding Arizona’s immigration issues.

Dr. Carmona is a trauma surgeon, police officer, public health administrator, and politician. He is of Puerto Rican descent, and comes from humble beginnings; he was raised in Harlem, where he dropped out of high school at age 16 to join the US Army, where he earned his GED. He joined the US Army Combat Special Forces and began his medical career as a combat medic. After leaving the service as a decorated veteran, Carmona attended nursing school at a community college in The Bronx, and then college and medical school at UCSF in San Francisco. He further earned his Masters in Public Health in 1998 from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Dr. Carmona is a Tucson resident, where he was an attending physician and trauma director of a trauma program at Tucson Medical Center in the early 1990s, and where he enjoyed teaching the resident physicians.

Dr. Carmona left his position as the 17th Surgeon General under the Bush administration, and many applauded him for taking a stand by testifying and stating as follows:

On July 10, 2007, Carmona, along with former Surgeons General C. Everett Koop and David Satcher, testified before the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about political and ideological interference with the Surgeon General’s mission. Carmona accused the Bush Administration of preventing him from speaking out on certain public health issues such as embryonic stem cell research, global climate change,[16] emergency contraception, and abstinence-only sex education, where the Administration’s political stance conflicted with scientific and medical opinion.[17]

Carmona also testified that the Bush Administration had attempted for years to “water down” his report on the dangers of secondhand smoke and pressured him not to testify in the tobacco industry’s racketeering trial: “Anything that doesn’t fit into the political appointees’ ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried.”[18][19] According to Carmona, he was even ordered not to attend the Special Olympics because the event was sponsored by the Kennedy family, and was told to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches.[12] The Washington Post subsequently identified William R. Steiger as the Bush Administration official who had blocked release of Carmona’s report on global health because it conflicted with the Administration’s political priorities.[20]

Dr. Carmona’s priorities for the Senate run are listed at his website, and in addition to fixing a broken immigration system, they are, by heading:

-Creating Jobs.
-Balancing the Budget Responsibly
-Holding Washington Accountable
-Preserving Social Security and Medicare
-Our National Security
-Protecting Women’s Health Care
-Providing for our Veterans

Dr. Carmona has made statements on various issues such as fair and equal wages for women and on the G.I. Bill, and these statements are available on his website. He further stresses his experience and ability to work with both sides of the aisle on the issues.

Other articles:

Washington Post:
Richard Carmona, former Bush surgeon general, best hope of turning Arizona blue, Democrats say

TPM- TPM 2012:

‘Political Greek God’: Even Republicans Think Carmona Has a Chance In Arizona

News on website www.carmonaforarizona.com:
Planned Parenthood Action Fund Endorses Dr. Richard Carmona for Congress

The New Yorker:

ANNALS OF POLITICS

Raging Arizona
How a border state became a battleground.