Graf’s political mantra was standard for a Reagan Republican when he was elected to the state House of Representatives in Phoenix in 2000. He talked about lowering taxes, downsizing government, lowering taxes, protecting the rights of gun owners and lowering taxes. The year 2000 actually set the high-tide mark for the flow of illegal aliens in what the Border Patrol calls its Tucson sector — already by then its busiest — encompassing an area of 90,000 square miles along 262 miles of border and including all of Graf’s legislative district: the Border Patrol detained 616,346 aliens that year in the sector. As Graf tells it, it wasn’t the numbers or the growing presence of the Border Patrol giving chase on highways between Green Valley and the border that drove him to seize on the issue. It was an epiphany one evening in a supermarket. He found himself, so he says, in line behind a grandmother, mother and daughter from a single Hispanic family — the daughter, eight months pregnant — all making their purchases with food stamps and uncomprehending when the sales clerk addressed them in English. He had no way of being sure they were here illegally, but for Graf it became a vision of a connection between taxes and illegal immigration that needed to be elevated to a cause.My nana was born here.
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Still think this isn't about race?