Brewer to attend border governors meeting

2011-09-18T05:00:00Z Brewer to attend border governors meetingHOWARD FISCHER Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Sun
September 18, 2011 5:00 am  • 

PHOENIX -- Gov. Jan Brewer plans to attend this year's meeting of the 10 border governors -- including the six from Mexico that snubbed her last year after she signed SB1070.

The event, set for the end of the month in Ensenada, Baja California, would be the first time that Brewer has sat down in the same room as the governors of the six Mexican border states. She did not attend the 2009 event in Monterrey because the state was involved in budget negotiations.

Last year was Arizona's turn to host the annual event. But Brewer pulled the plug after the Mexican governors refused to come to the state after lawmakers approved -- and the governor signed -- SB1070. That measure contains various provisions aimed at illegal immigrants, including several designed to give police more power to detain those not in the country legally.

Chihuahua Gov. Jose Reyes Baeza Terrazas, in a letter to Brewer, said SB1070 is "discriminatory, racist and violates the International Civil Rights agreement established in 1976."

Brewer, in turn, lashed out at the governors and even accused them of not acting of their own accord. Instead, she said, they were "acting under the direction, I believe, of President (Felipe) Calderon that they ought not to participate."

And when it became clear the Mexican governors would not come, Brewer notified them that "I find no appropriate alternative to cancellation."

Gubernatorial press aide Matthew Benson said he believes that Brewer will get a cordial reception despite last year's dust-up. Nor does he believe that the Mexican governors are holding a grudge against her for signing the bill.

He pointed out that Guillermo Padres Elias, the governor of Sonora, attended a conference earlier this year in Arizona hosted by Brewer.

"There was quite a bit of Mexican media and it was fine," Benson said. "She gets along very well with Gov. Padres and she's not concerned about the reception that she'll receive."

Anyway, he said, Brewer's counterparts should understand her position.

"As elected leaders of different states with different constituencies, they're not going to agree on everything," Benson said. And he said Brewer has an obligation to "do what she thinks is best" for Arizona.

"But, generally speaking, they share many of the same goals for their constituents," he continued. "That's what the border governors' conference is about: promoting policies that improve the economies and security of the region."

Nor was Benson concerned that others -- beyond the governors -- might give her a less-than-friendly reception.

"We get protestors all over the place," he said. "That's never kept her in the office before."

Benson stressed that while Brewer plans to go to Ensenada, she will cancel the trip if she is needed in Arizona.

Bill Richardson, who was governor of New Mexico at the time, stepped in last year after Brewer's cancellation, scheduling a two-day session in Santa Fe. While the Mexican governors attended, he was the only one from the U.S. side of the border, though Abel Maldonado, the lieutenant governor of California, did attend on behalf of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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