Obama-Brewer summit on illegal immigration eases tensions
Though they continue to differ on illegal immigration issues, including comprehensive reform and border security, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and the White House described the meeting as cordial.
The White House, in a written statement, called it a â€śgood meeting.â€ť Governor Brewer called it â€śvery, very cordial,â€ť and said, â€śI am encouraged that thereâ€™s going to be much better dialogue between the federal government and the state of Arizona.â€ť
The president-governor summit was the culmination of weeks of negative rhetoric coming from both sides, following Brewerâ€™s decision in April to sign tough legislation aimed at curtailing illegal immigration. Under the law, police must check the residency status of someone who is being investigated for another possible legal infraction and who also raises â€śreasonable suspicionâ€ť that they are in the country illegally.
The Obama administration has criticized the law, arguing it could result in racial profiling and spur the passage of laws in other states that result in an unworkable national patchwork of immigration policy. Brewer and her supporters have complained that administration officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, havenâ€™t read the law and are playing politics with the increasingly powerful Hispanic vote.
But the tone improved after the Oval Office meeting. The two executives discussed President Obamaâ€™s previously announced plan to deploy 1,200 National Guard troops to the US-Mexican border and to request an additional $500 million from Congress for border security.
Before the meeting, Brewer had expressed dismay over a lack of clarity from Washington as to how these resources would be distributed. After the meeting, she said the numbers still werenâ€™t fixed, but that Obama â€śfelt the majority of all the resources would probably be coming to Arizona.â€ť
She also said that in the next two weeks, Obama administration staff would come to Arizona to brief state officials on the National Guard deployment and funding.
In their meeting, the White House said, â€śthe 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.â€ť
However, the two did not agree on how to proceed federally. Appearing before reporters after the meeting, Brewer was asked if she made a commitment to get Republican support for comprehensive immigration reform. Her reply: â€śNo.â€ť
â€śComprehensive immigration reformâ€ť stands for a multi-pronged approach: securing the border; devising a better system for employer verification of a workerâ€™s legal status; and establishing a pathway to legalization for immigrants currently afoul of the law.
Most Republicans support a â€śsecure the border first strategyâ€ť and are not willing to entertain legalization or, as many call it, â€śamnesty.â€ť
President George W. Bush supported comprehensive reform, but was not able to get enough Republicans in Congress to go along, and his plan died. During the 2008 campaign, Obama promised early action on comprehensive reform, but it has yet to move to the top of his agenda.
Still up in the air is whether the Justice Department will sue Arizona over the new law, which goes into effect on July 29.