(VIDEO) Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and President Obama Meet After Tough Talk About Immigration, Lawsuits
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer met with President Barack Obama at the White House today regarding Arizona's controversial new immigration law. The meeting has been likened by national news outlets to everything from a Cold War summit to a "face-off."
The president has publicly criticized the state law, saying it shows we need comprehensive immigration reform. In addition, Department of Justice officials have met with Arizona officials, indicating the federal goverment may sue the state.
After today's meeting, USA Today reports that Brewer said the president did not reveal whether the Department of Justice will sue Arizona, but she stands by her previous commitment to see any such lawsuit through to the Supreme Court. Fox News says the governor got "few results" from Obama. The Houston Chronicle via the AP says Brewer believes she and Obama will work together to address Arizona's concerns.
Brewer ... says Obama assured her that most of the 1,200 National Guard troops he is sending to the southern border will be coming to her state.
Also, Obama has promised to send White House staff to the state, says Brewer per the Washington Post.
According to the White House, the meeting went well:
The President listened to Governor Brewer’s concerns, and noted that the Administration’s ongoing border protection and security efforts have increased pressure on illegal trafficking organizations through record seizures of illegal weapons and bulk cash transiting from the United States to Mexico, resulted in significant seizures of illegal drugs headed into the United States, lowered the average violent crime statistics in states along the Southwest Border, and reduced illegal immigration into the United States.
Despite the significant improvements, the President acknowledged the understandable frustration that all Americans share about the broken immigration system, and the President and Governor agreed that the lack of action to fix the broken system at the federal level is unacceptable. ... Regarding Arizona law SB1070, the President reiterated his concern with the measure, including that a patchwork of different state immigration regulations around the country would interfere with the federal government’s responsibility to set and enforce immigration policy.
The Republican governor signed SB1070 in late April, and the New York Times reported then:
The law, which proponents and critics alike said was the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.
The law takes effect July 29.
Anticipating a certain predictability in today's meeting, Marisa Treviño at LatinaLista writes:
No matter how much Brewer defends her signing of the bill, her reasons do and will pale as more and more academicians and professionals analyze it and voice their concerns.
The post focuses on flaws in the new law.
Indeed, Brewer has been squarely in defense mode. On Tuesday, she spoke to CNN's John King. In the video below she says she would not postpone having the law go into effect to give the federal government another chance to secure the border, and so, to the Obama administration she says, "Meet you in court. I have a pretty good record of winning in court."
Brewer tells King that "A nation without borders is like a house without walls." In addition, she says her state's immigration law does not target people of a specific ethnic group, nor is it racist. She says even a Norwegian might be asked to prove citizenship.
While she cites crime as a factor motivating Arizona's move, and King acknowledges the murder of a rancher seems to have influenced passing the law, he still tells Brewer that law enforcement reports indicate violent crime is not rising in her state. It may have even dipped.
In an ABC news segment, some police officers seem to agree that while crime is an issue, it's not on the rise.
The Huffington Post reports SB1070 has prompted a lawsuit from at least one officer and others have joined saying officers don't want to enforce the Arizona law.
Brewer tells King that she needs to meet with the president because the federal government has not communicated to her personally what it plans to do to stop illegal immigration. She cited more than once tremendous support for the law, that a majority of Americans, she says, support what her state is doing.
According to a recent Quinnipiac University survey, Brewer may be right about that support:
American voters say by 48%-35% that they want an immigration law like the one in Arizona, which requires law enforcement officials to ask someone's legal status if there is "reasonable suspicion" to believe the person is in the USA illegally.
The problem, say critics, with thinking majority approval makes a law legal is that rights protected by The Constitution of the United States of America don't stand or fall based on what the majority thinks or wants. Our constitution protects the people from the government and the minority from the majority. It's understood that the majority rules in elections, but it's also clear that the majority may sometimes abuse its power in ways that undermine freedom for all.
Constitutional rights of the minority are not solely about race, however. Minority rights are also a consideration of religious freedom. Still, the nation's more prominent battles that touch minority rights and Civil Rights have involved race. At Salon.com, a writer says the Arizona law should disturb all minorities.
The argument that people in this country illegally are not citizens and so are not protected by our constitution scores common sense points on the surface, but responding to that argument prompts opponents to declare the Arizona law is "racist" or at least a tool that encourages racial/ethnic profiling. Critics ask, "What about a person would justify a police officer asking to see his or her citizenship papers?" That's the premise of the campaign "Do I Look Illegal?"
In addition, some analysts say Arizona's legislation crosses the division of power lines between state and federal enforcement. Examining potential challenges to the law, the Wall Street Journal says Arizona may invoke the theory of "concurrent enforcement, ... which in some instances allows a state law to lie alongside a federal law without conflicting."
For other Americans, the idea of producing papers to prove you belong in a public place reminds them of rules for Jewish people in Nazi Germany. Some Arizona law opponents stooped to calling Brewer "Hitler's daughter." Brewer responded saying she was offended by the comparison and that her father died fighting the Nazis. However, even that declaration dogs the governor. The Arizona Guardian reports Brewer's father died 10 years after World War II.
Neverthless, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, denounces comparisons of Arizona to Nazi Germany. The center's associate dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, calls the invocation of Hitler "inappropriate."
With the onslaught of criticism over the law, including boycotts and state reactions to boycotts, Arizona has also been lambasted for its bill banning certain ethnic studies, which Brewer signed into law in May. BlogHer CE Leslie Madsen Brooks wrote in April:
I'm worried less about the specific language and provisions of the bill than about the motivations of the people who authored it and voted to pass it.
And a separate move by Arizona officials to reassign teachers with "heavy" accents has caused critics to say the state's going on a "witch hunt," that it's sliding toward an ethnic cleansing paradigm. So, what's really going on in Arizona and how should we address illegal immigration in America, land of the immigrants?
In April BlogHer CE Mata H. posted a poll and asked, "How Do You Feel About Arizona's Immigration Law?" Responses in comments ranged from "This law is an appalling affront to civil liberties" to "My husband is Greek and is often mistaken for a Latin person. He likes the new law in Arizona."
Like that woman speaking of her husband's approval, Arizona supporters of SB1070 say the law is fair, not racists, and they are simply fed-up with illegal immigrants. The following iReport video comes from a man with the screenname iUnderground who says he's not a Tea Party conservative but neither does he buy rhetoric from "knee-jerk, politically correct sheepherders." He decided to visit an Arizona law supporters rally to see what they were saying themselves.
While some supporters try to stick with appeals that emphasize entering the United States without following proper immigration procedures is a crime, others veer into speeches that make observers concerned about racial profiling or dehumanizing specific groups uncomfortable.
An argument may be made that Arizona reflects the mood of many Americans, that illegal immigration is a threat to them in some way. The surge of antipathy toward illegal immigrants over the years has emboldened a few conservative lawmakers, reports BlogHer CE Kim Pearson, to hawk a bill that conflicts with the 14th Amendment of our constitution:
If a small but vocal group of state and congressional lawmakers have their way, being born in the United States will no longer guarantee American citizenship. These legislators want to require that parents prove that they are in the U.S. legally before their American-born children will be issued birth certificates.
The current introduction is not the first time this kind of bill has been introduced, and most likely it will not be the last.
What do you think?