/ Modified oct 20, 2014 1:48 p.m.

Border Policies, Reviving Economy at Center of Arizona's CD 3 Forum

Democratic incumbent Grijalva, Republican challenger Saucedo Mercer faced off for first time in 2014 general election campaign.

Watch the forum -

Major differences on immigration and border policies and economic revitalization plans are at the center of the 3rd Congressional District race rematch.

Democratic incumbent Raúl Grijalva and Republican challenger Gabriela Saucedo Mercer faced off for the first time in the 2014 election campaign at a forum at Arizona Public Media.

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva MW Forum 10/14/14 U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva.
AZPM Staff

Economic growth has been a top issue in Grijalva's campaign for a seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has said improving infrastructure is one way to revive the state and country's economy.

"Every study, congressional or otherwise, has pointed to the collapse of our infrastructure, our highway system, our mass transit system, our bridges, our roads..." he said. Everything from building roads and working on the sewer system puts people to work and stimulates the economy, he added.

The incumbent referred to the Highway Trust Fund, a transportation fund that gets money from a federal fuel tax, as an infrastructure aid that should be extended for up to the next six years. It's important to the state and the country, he said.

Grijalva pointed fingers at major corporations that move out of the country to avoid paying corporate taxes. He said they are taking jobs from the American people and cheating the country out of revenue.

Gabriela Saucedo Mercer Gabriela Saucedo Mercer.
AZPM Staff

"We should incentivize companies that create American jobs and have the fiscal responsibility on their taxes to this country," he said. "Revenue we have allowed...with all the tax breaks we have given to corporate America and the richest 1 and 2 percent in this country, we have robbed the rest of the American people," and have put a burden on small businesses and middle-class families.

Saucedo Mercer said companies leave the country to escape government regulations that block growth.

"Government does not create jobs, government creates bureaucracies," she said.

The focus should be on nurturing plans that will create jobs for the state and country. In Arizona's case, she said being copper-rich is a good opportunity for revenue, but "Mr. Grijalva opposes mining," she said.

She asked how the state is supposed to benefit from copper without mining. She criticized Grijalva for continuously blocking the proposed Rosemont Copper Mine in the Santa Rita Mountains "to save snails or a wildcat." The mine would create thousands of much needed jobs in the state, she said.

To Grijalva, immigration reform also plays a role in improving the state and country's economy.

The congressman said comprehensive immigration reform would allow for the millions of undocumented people to come out of the shadows and contribute to the economy.

"It's billions of dollars...the deficit, in two years, reduced by half a billion...35,000 new jobs created," he said. "There is an economic reason to do this, as much as there is a humanitarian reason."

Sending more Border Patrol agents and building more fences is not the solution. He said the country has been doing that for years - investing billions in border security - and it has not worked. "We keep talking about more and more, there is a point of no satisfaction," he said.

More Border Patrol agents are needed on the Arizona-Mexico border, Saucedo Mercer said.

She used San Diego as a model of enhancing border security.

"They built the double-layer fence...and they have boots on the ground," she said. Illegal immigration and crime have dramatically decreased in that region, she added.

Both agreed that it's not about locking the border doors and never looking back, because a good trade relationship with Mexico is key to Arizona and the country's growth.

The general election is Nov. 4. Early voting began last week.

Border Crisis
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