Gov­er­nors balk at fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion suit

Democrats worry that chal­leng­ing Ari­zona law will cost party this fall

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NA­TION - By Abby Good­nough

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 in Bos­ton 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 Sat­ur­day, some gov­er­nors be­moaned the tim­ing of the Jus­tice Depart­ment law­suit, ac­cord­ing to two gov­er­nors who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity.

“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.”

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.

Brewer said they did not dis­cuss the 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.

But about the same time that the two were meet­ing, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder 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.

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

Gov. Ha­ley Bar­bour of Mis­sis­sippi, a pos­si­ble Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date in 2012, said, “It’s a sad day in Amer­ica when the fed­eral gov­ern­ment sues a state for pass­ing a law, the rea­son for which is be­cause the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is not do­ing its job.” Chris Ma­son of Cam­bridge, Mass., ral­lies against Ari­zona’s im­mi­gra­tion law Sat­ur­day in Bos­ton, where Ari­zona Gov. Jan Brewer was at­tend­ing the meet­ing of the Na­tional Gov­er­nors As­so­ci­a­tion.

Michael Dwyer

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