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NJ Daily / IMMIGRATION

Arizona Gov. Pushes For Obama's Help

June 3, 2010

Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer today said she received assurances from President Obama that the majority of forthcoming border security resources will be sent to her state, but exactly how much has not been determined.

Following a hastily arranged meeting with Obama at the White House, Brewer said she wants the administration to begin constructing fencing along the Arizona-Mexico border this month.

The meeting was held amid rising tension between the administration and Brewer after she signed a controversial law giving police in her state explicit authority to question the legal status of anyone reasonably believed to be in the country illegally.

 

Attorney General Holder is reviewing whether to legally challenge the law. Brewer said Obama "brushed over" the issue and did not want to discuss any details of it during their meeting. When asked whether she believes Obama has actually read the law, Brewer smiled and said if he has, he should understand it.

Brewer said the tone of today's meeting was very cordial, and both sides agreed to have more dialogue.

"I will tell you, I am encouraged that there is going to be much better dialogue between the federal government and the state of Arizona," Brewer said. "I hope that's not wishful thinking."

But they did not appear to come to any agreements. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said both sides expressed their viewpoints, with Obama stressing that border security must be coupled with comprehensive immigration reform.

"I don't think you're going to deal with comprehensive immigration reform and the circumstances around the border without dealing with Arizona," he said.

Gibbs noted that Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain was "very instrumental" in advancing immigration reform legislation in the past. Gibbs said the White House hopes Brewer will let McCain and other GOP senators know the importance of the issue.

But Brewer said she did not commit during the meeting to getting Republican support for immigration reform.

Gibbs said he did not know whether the administration plans to build fencing in Arizona within the next month.

Brewer remained under fire today from critics who oppose the Arizona law and who want Congress to pass immigration reform legislation. Indeed, protesters rallied across the street from the White House while Brewer and Obama met.

"Gov. Brewer has shown that she's not interested in real solutions," said Eliseo Medina, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union. "Instead of encouraging her senators, John McCain and [Arizona GOP Sen.] Jon Kyl, to come to the table and work with the president and Democrats in Congress, she has helped create a political environment in her state that makes a real conversation about how to address our broken immigration system impossible."

"Until Republicans stop blocking real reform and instead work to pass comprehensive reform legislation, we will see more senseless legislation ... in states across the country," she added.

House Judiciary ranking member Lamar Smith defended Brewer.

"Listening to the governor of Arizona's concerns is likely to be more productive than the approach taken by [Homeland] Secretary Napolitano and Attorney General Holder, who criticized Arizona's immigration enforcement law before even reading it," he said of today's meeting.

"Arizona was forced to take action because of the federal government's unwillingness to enforce our immigration laws and secure our nation's borders," he added.

The White House announced last week that it is seeking $500 million in new border security funds from Congress, part of which will be used to send 1,200 National Guard troops to the Southwest border.

House appropriators have included the funding in their version of the emergency war supplemental spending bill. The Senate version of the bill does not contain the funding, but key senators have indicated they support adding it.

Brewer said Obama pledged to send some of his staff to Arizona with updated information in two weeks.

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