Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer used Sedona as a platform Thursday, July 1, to discuss the nationwide reaction to Senate Bill 1070, Arizona’s new immigration law.
Brewer said that the bill merely mirrors existing federal law. Passage of the bill was necessary to secure the Arizona-Mexico border, she said, because the federal immigration process is broken.
“My plan is to tell the federal government to do their job, and their job is to secure our border,” Brewer said. “We’re going to get our border secure, and then we need to talk about what we can do about a comprehensive immigration reform package.”
Brewer said she supports immigration reform, but border security should come first. She said lawmakers have failed because they want immigration reform before tackling border security.
“When your house is on fire, you don’t call the architect — you put the fire out,” Brewer said. “We all know that immigration reform needs to be addressed, but no one … is going to budge until our borders are secure. Mexico is in chaos, and it’s because our borders aren’t secure. Arizona is in chaos because our borders aren’t secured.”
Set to go into effect later this month, SB 1070 requires police officers to determine the status of people during lawful contact if there is reasonable suspicion they are illegal immigrants and to arrest people unable to provide documentation proving they are in the country legally. It also makes it a crime to transport someone who is an illegal immigrant or to hire day laborers off the street.
Brewer said the language of the bill prohibits racial profiling.
Reply to President Obama
Speaking to a joint meeting of the Sedona Men’s Republican Club and the Verde Valley Republican Women, Brewer also used the opportunity to criticize President Barack Obama. He spoke on immigration reform earlier in the day at the American University School of International Service in Washington, D.C.
“More fundamentally, the presence of so many illegal immigrants makes a mockery of all those who are going through the process of immigrating legally,” Obama said. “Indeed, after years of patchwork fixes and ill-conceived revisions, the legal immigration system is as broken as the borders.
“… States like Arizona have decided to take matters into their own hands,” Obama said. “Given the levels of frustration across the country, this is understandable. But it is also ill conceived. And it’s not just that the law Arizona passed is divisive — although it has fanned the flames of an already contentious debate.”
“I felt almost like it was a helpless speech,” Brewer said. It wasn’t solving the problem. He was spinning bad information in regards to Senate Bill 1070. He was spinning the same kind of story that the Americans have been fed for decades now: We need comprehensive immigration reform and then we can secure the border. No. We’ve done that. We did that, and we’re not going to go through that again.”
“He used the speech to lament about Senate Bill 1070 and how divisive it is,” Brewer said. “Senate Bill 1070 hasn’t divided our country, it has united our country.”
“I was very disappointed to hear the president give again bad information, bad information about Senate Bill 1070. That’s wrong,” she said.
Brewer also condemned movements to boycott Arizona and/or Arizona-based businesses. More than 30 cities and counties around the United States have announced boycotts of doing business with the state while others have voted to publicly condemn the new law.
“No elected official should have the right, in my opinion, to boycott Arizona,” Brewer said. “[Obama] had a great opportunity today to explain what Senate Bill 1070 does, that it mirrors the federal law — we want it enforced. He could have talked about the boycotts and put some cold water on that craziness.”
“That’s what we want from our president — we want leadership, and we want our border secured,” she said.
National Guard Troops
The governor commented on the Obama administration’s decision to send 1,200 unarmed National Guard troops to the border. Around 500 would be sent to Arizona, fewer than Brewer requested.
“I’m totally disappointed. We have repeatedly spoken with his administration — as have many elected officials from Arizona — and we need more National Guard,” Brewer said. “This is really disappointing when you think that he’s spending $135 million on National Guard for the United States and he’s sending double that, $310 million, on Mexico for drug control.”
Brewer said U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop [R-Utah] was sponsoring a bill allowing law enforcement to conduct patrols on federally protected land, which are “open corridors” for illegal immigrants crossing the border.
Concerns about SB 1070 also focus on how the bill will be enforced by local governments already strained by the economic downturn.
“Laws like Arizona’s put huge pressures on local law enforcement to enforce rules that ultimately are unenforceable,” Obama said. “It puts pressure on already hard-strapped state and local budgets. It makes it difficult for people here illegally to report crimes — driving a wedge between communities and law enforcement, making our streets more dangerous and the jobs of our police officers more difficult.”
“Talk to the local law enforcement in the state of Arizona,” Brewer said. “They support Senate Bill 1070 and they will do their job.”
Brewer enjoys a 61 percent lead for the Tuesday, Aug. 24, Republican primary, outpacing businessman Buz Mills at 16 percent and Arizona State Treasurer Dean Martin at 12 percent, according to a Rasmussen Report poll conducted June 21.
The winner will face uncontested Democratic nominee, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard in November.
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