Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer scolded Atty. Gen. Eric Holder for holding open the prospect of a lawsuit when Arizona is already facing five legal challenges over the state’s new immigration law.
“I would much prefer for them not to file suit, given the fact that they could take the money and help me build a fence on my border,” Brewer said in an interview with three HUMAN EVENTS editors by phone from Phoenix.
Brewer also said she has decided to bypass her state’s top law enforcement official and hire private counsel to defend new immigration legislation in court because her attorney general opposes the measure.
Brewer has been in the national spotlight since her state enacted legislation authorizing law enforcement officials to question people they detain as to whether they are legal U.S. residents.
Brewer mentioned opposition to what is increasingly called “the Arizona laws” from fellow governors on border states, notably Democrat Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger of California. Brewer said she knew Schwarzenegger didn’t know what was in the bill because “he figured what he read in the paper was exactly what the bill said.”
Brewer’s announcement of bypassing Arizona Atty. Gen.Terry Goddard in favor of private counsel came days after Goddard (who is the leading Democratic contender for governor this year) told a group in New York he opposed the immigration measure that is headed for court challenges.
“He actually had spoken out publicly that he opposed the bill and stated that he thought it was unconstitutional,” said Brewer. “Therefore, the legislature gave me specific instructions in the legislation to go outside and hire my own counsel, which you know, obviously makes good sense. One would like to think that their lawyer was on their side.”
Brewer said she sent a letter to Holder on June 4 that answered questions from the Justice Department on the immigration measure. The letter, obtained by HUMAN EVENTS, urged the DoJ not to file charges against Arizona because there are already “five federal court lawsuits pending that challenge” the new law. “Every conceivable constitutional and any other legal challenge that can be raised about SB1070 will be thoroughly briefed, argued and then adjudicated by a United States court,” the letter continued, while also defending the tough illegal immigration statutes as “constitutionally permissible.”
“Everything constitutional that in fact they could ever talk about is in those other suits,” she told HUMAN EVENTS. “I would much prefer for them [DoJ] not to file suit, given the fact that they could take the money and help me build a fence on my border.”
Overall, the Governor’s legal team is asking the courts to dismiss the lawsuits.
“I hope [Holder’s] read [the law] by now,” Brewer said, “so that he knows what it exactly says.”
Brewer, who met with President Obama recently, said he tried to keep some distance from the immigration law.
“When I spoke with the President, he indicated that he wasn’t going to make much comment about the law..He was going to leave it up to the Department of Justice to determine whether they were going to file suit or not. It’s an interesting way of stating, ‘You know, I don’t want to get my fingers too deep in that because I know the public supports it.’
Asked what fellow governors facing similar problems with their borders and illegal immigrants are saying, Brewer mentioned that she has “certainly spoken with [Texas Republican] Gov. [Rick] Perry and [New Mexico Democratic] Gov. Richardson and Gov. Schwarzenegger with regard to it. They, of course aren’t facing the problem that Arizona is because we now have been left as the gateway for all illegal immigration, drug cartels and gangs coming into the Americas.”
Brewer particularly singled out Schwarzenegger, recalling that “Arnold of course has stated publicly that he didn’t support it. He is much different than I am with regard to that. You know, we are a nation of laws and it’s illegal and that didn’t change his mind. He figured that what he read in the paper was exactly what the bill said and we kind of left it at that.”