PHOENIX -- The head of a U.S. Senate subcommittee wants Gov. Jan Brewer to tell him and his colleagues why she thinks Arizona needs its own law aimed at illegal immigration.

But Brewer isn't interested.

Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., is planning an April 24 hearing of his Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security to look at both the legality and the sense of having state and local governments enforcing immigration law.

The hearing comes more than a year after Congress approved more than $600 million to hire 1,000 new Border Patrol agents for the southern border and 250 new agents for the ports of entry. Schumer said the legislation has had "dramatic results" in decreasing illegal immigration.

Now he wants to hear from Brewer.

In a letter Thursday to the governor, Schumer asked her to testify why she signed SB1070 in 2010. That law is designed to give state and police more power to detain and arrest illegal immigrants.

The senator also told Brewer he wanted to know "whether you believe SB1070 is necessary in light of the substantially increased security situation along our southern border." And, perhaps most pointedly, Schumer said he hoped Brewer would discuss whether SB1070 should remain in perpetuity "irrespective of whether conditions further improve along the southern border."

The letter also baited the governor a little bit, pointing out how she has frequently asked President Obama to visit the Mexican border to discuss security.

"We expect that you will be eager to engage in a productive dialogue with the congressional committee responsible for acting upon any border security recommendations you provide," Schumer wrote.

Brewer press aide Matthew Benson acknowledged his boss already plans to be in Washington that week, at public expense, to listen to arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on April 25 about the legality of the law.

A trial judge, ruling on a challenge brought by the Obama administration, blocked the state from enforcing key provisions, ruling they were preempted by federal law. That ruling was upheld by a federal appeals court.

But Benson said the Republican governor has no interest in participating in the congressional hearing.

"This looks like a publicity stunt for Sen. Schumer," he said.

"Congressional inaction by the likes of Sen. Schumer is exactly the reason SB1070 and other laws like it were necessary in the first place," Benson said.

"They've had years to deal with this issue," he continued. "They haven't."

Schumer does not see it that way.

In his letter, Schumer said Brewer recently called SB1070 "Arizona's way of saying that we won't wait patiently for federal action any longer." And the governor has repeatedly said that if the federal government will not secure the border, the state will step in.

Schumer suggested that even if SB1070 were necessary when Brewer signed it, that is no longer the case after his legislation was approved several months later.

Aside from the increase in Border Patrol agents, Schumer said his legislation created a "strike force" that can be deployed in different areas of the Southwest border depending on need. He also said there were funds for unmanned drones, improved communications capabilities between federal and local officers, forward operating bases for the Border Patrol, and increased funding to boost the number of prosecutors and court resources.

The result, Schumer wrote to Brewer, is that the Border Patrol is at 21,300 now compared to about 10,000 in 2004, when George W. Bush was president. At the same time, he said, apprehensions of border crossers are down, "indicating that far fewer people are attempting to illegally cross the border."

Benson said the governor sees no reason to spend time debating that with Schumer on the Hill.

"The last thing the American people need is more talk from Congress when it comes to illegal immigration," he said. Anyway, Benson said Brewer does not believe the hearing will be "productive."

While Brewer won't get to talk during the April 25 Supreme Court hearing, she is expected to have a press conference in front of the courthouse afterwards, as she did more than a year ago when she went to Washington to watch the court arguments over a bill allowing the state to punish employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. The justices eventually upheld the legality of that law.

(5) comments

evanston
evanston

Prior to the opening of Ellis Island, individual states DID enforce immigration laws - and it didn't work very well. Details on the history of immigration regulation can be found at the link below:

http://tohell-andback.blogspot.com/2011/11/immigration-man.html

Raptoraddict
Raptoraddict

What an embarrassment. Jan Brewer, the supposedly staunches supporter of border security, won’t even attend a Senatorial meeting in Washington about the same issue. Even though, she will already be in Washington (at our expense) to give a press conference in front of the Supreme Court. I guess she is much better suited to giving press conferences and throwing a temper tantrum on the tamarack in front of the President and the world. Why won’t she even try to help with securing our borders?

longtimer
longtimer

Funny, just last week Brewer was demanding that she get a chance to defend S.B. 1070- of course that was in court. Maybe she should send the people who wrote the bill- the lobbyists from ALEC.

Arizona Eagle
Arizona Eagle

She's probably afraid she'll look like a fool in front of the world....oh, wait....

jehosephats
jehosephats

Whoa boy. If she decided to go defend her nonsense and ended up shaking her finger at the panel on national tv it would be classic! She's turned AZ government into a bizarre reality show. Prize goes to the commenter who comes up with the best name for the show!!

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