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Governors Voice Grave Concerns on Immigration

Posted by on Jul. 12, 2010 at 8:00 AM
  • 4 Replies

BOSTON — In a private meeting with White House officials this weekend, Democratic governors voiced deep anxiety about the Obama administration’s suit against Arizona’s new immigration law, worrying that it could cost a vulnerable Democratic Party in the fall elections.

While the weak economy dominated the official agenda at the summer meeting here of the National Governors Association, concern over immigration policy pervaded the closed-door session between Democratic governors and White House officials and simmered throughout the three-day event.

At the Democrats’ meeting on Saturday, some governors bemoaned the timing of the Justice Department lawsuit, according to two governors who spoke anonymously because the discussion was private.

“Universally the governors are saying, ‘We’ve got to talk about jobs,’ ” Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a Democrat, said in an interview. “And all of a sudden we have immigration going on.”

He added, “It is such a toxic subject, such an important time for Democrats.”

The administration seemed to be taking a carrot-and-stick approach on Sunday. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, in town to give the governors a classified national security briefing, met one-on-one with Jan Brewer, the Republican who succeeded her as governor of Arizona and ardently supports the immigration law.

About the same time as that meeting, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said on a taped Sunday talk show that the Justice Department could bring yet another lawsuit against Arizona if there is evidence that the immigration law leads to racial profiling.

Ms. Brewer said she and Ms. Napolitano did not discuss the current lawsuit. Instead, in a conversation she described as cordial, they discussed Arizona’s request for more National Guard troops along the border with Mexico, as well as other resources.

The Democrats’ meeting provided a window on tensions between the White House and states over the suit, which the Justice Department filed last week in federal court in Phoenix. Nineteen Democratic governors are either leaving office or seeking re-election this year, and Republicans see those seats as crucial to swaying the 2012 presidential race.

The Arizona law — which Ms. Brewer signed in April and which, barring an injunction, takes effect July 29 — makes it a crime to be an illegal immigrant there. It also requires police officers to determine the immigration status of people they stop for other offenses if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that they might be illegal immigrants.

The lawsuit contends that controlling immigration is a federal responsibility, but polls suggest that a majority of Americans support the Arizona law, or at least the concept of a state having a strong role in immigration enforcement.

Republican governors at the Boston meeting were also critical of the lawsuit, saying it infringed on states’ rights and rallying around Ms. Brewer, whose presence spurred a raucous protest around the downtown hotel where the governors gathered.

“I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that almost every state in America next January is going to see a bill similar to Arizona’s,” said Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska, a Republican seeking re-election.

But the unease of Democratic governors, seven of whom are seeking re-election this year, was more striking.

“I might have chosen both a different tack and a different time,” said Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. of Colorado, a Democrat who was facing a tough fight for re-election and pulled out of the race earlier this year. “This is an issue that divides us politically, and I’m hopeful that their strategy doesn’t do that in a way that makes it more difficult for candidates to get elected, particularly in the West.”

The White House would not directly respond to reports of complaints from some Democratic governors.

But David Axelrod, the president’s senior adviser, said on Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the president remained committed to passing an immigration overhaul, and that addressing the issue did not mean he was ignoring the economy.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t have a good, healthy debate about the economy and other issues,” Mr. Axelrod said.

Mr. Obama addressed the economy last week during stops in Kansas City and Las Vegas, and has been calling on Congress to offer additional tax relief to small businesses.

And the heads of Mr. Obama’s national debt commission — Alan K. Simpson and Erskine B. Bowles — were on hand here on Sunday to press the economic issue.

The nation’s total federal debt next year is expected to exceed $14 trillion, and Mr. Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, and Mr. Bowles, a Democrat and the White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, offered a gloomy assessment if spending is not brought under control even more.

“This debt is like a cancer,” Mr. Bowles said. “It is truly going to destroy the country from within.”

Still, the issue of immigration commanded as much attention as anything here this weekend.

Ms. Brewer, who was trailed by television cameras all weekend, called the lawsuit “outrageous” and said the state was receiving donations from around the country to help fight it.

“I think Arizona will win,” she said, “and we will take a position for all of America.”

Immigration was not the only topic at the Saturday meeting between Democratic governors and two White House officials — Patrick Gaspard, Mr. Obama’s political director, and Cecilia Munoz, director of intergovernmental affairs. But several governors, including Christine Gregoire of Washington, said it was a particularly heated issue.

Ms. Gregoire, who does not face an election this year, said the White House was doing a poor job of showing the American public that it was working on the problem of illegal immigration.

For the rest of the story

by on Jul. 12, 2010 at 8:00 AM
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40isfun
by Christi on Jul. 12, 2010 at 8:04 AM

Maybe I am missing something.  I see the article mentioned polls which are quite unofficial.  It says a poll "suggests" that a majority of Americans support the law in Arizona.  My question is, why haven't they taken a vote?  I think the law will lead to racial profiling and I'm against it.  But I'm really against a few people taking matters into their own hands and deciding this is what the law will be without asking the people.

butterfly2560
by Member on Jul. 12, 2010 at 8:19 AM

 Hello I don't remember a poll! Have we learned nothing from the past! Aren't we all supposed to be living as one community and teaching our children tolerance and not prejudice, obviously our government like to keep that fight going which is what keeps WARS going, and why we seem to always have riots among us because if the top doesn't show tolerance why should anybody else!!!

40isfun
by Christi on Jul. 12, 2010 at 8:23 AM


Quoting butterfly2560:

 Hello I don't remember a poll! Have we learned nothing from the past! Aren't we all supposed to be living as one community and teaching our children tolerance and not prejudice, obviously our government like to keep that fight going which is what keeps WARS going, and why we seem to always have riots among us because if the top doesn't show tolerance why should anybody else!!!

Amen, they want us to believe the majority of Americans are ok with profiling but I don't think so.  I think we have a few elitists who are heading this agenda.  I also think it's sickening how those same people don't have any problems hiring illegals and people from poorer countries for cheap labor but then want to deny them an opportunity for a better life.  It sickens me.

butterfly2560
by Member on Jul. 12, 2010 at 8:41 AM

 

Quoting butterfly2560:

 

Quoting 40isfun:


Quoting butterfly2560:

 Hello I don't remember a poll! Have we learned nothing from the past! Aren't we all supposed to be living as one community and teaching our children tolerance and not prejudice, obviously our government like to keep that fight going which is what keeps WARS going, and why we seem to always have riots among us because if the top doesn't show tolerance why should anybody else!!!

Amen, they want us to believe the majority of Americans are ok with profiling but I don't think so.  I think we have a few elitists who are heading this agenda.  I also think it's sickening how those same people don't have any problems hiring illegals and people from poorer countries for cheap labor but then want to deny them an opportunity for a better life.  It sickens me.

 The only people their polling are the ones who are prejudice, the ones hiring aren't going to admit it, you know like the landscapers or the housecleaners because they wouldn't get the cheap labor that they do, and they wouldn't want to look like scum to everyone else!!!!!!

 

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