Arizona sheriffs criticize White House immigration summitPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX - Arizona is considered the "Ground Zero" of the immigration debate, but the names most synonymous with the issue were left out of a White House conference on immigration reform.
Mayors and police chiefs from New York, San Antonio, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia joined former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the CEO of Facebook, officials from JP Morgan Chase, the Bishop of Salt Lake, and other so-called "stake-holders" at the White House Summit on Tuesday.
"How could they not include us in this conversation," asked Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.
Neither Babeu nor Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio were invited.
"Why does the Department of Justice avoid me with all my experience in Mexico? I have more experience than any politician has. Why don't they invite me?" questioned Arpaio.
Only one Arizonan appeared at the White House conference. Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor, who is a vocal opponent of Senate Bill 1070, was invited to the summit.
"They only invited people who agree with them. It's an echo chamber with a whole line of people who are 'yes men' to the president," said Sheriff Babeu.
White House officials say they invited a "broad group from across the political spectrum" and participants such as Rev. Al Sharpton said there were disagreements over reform.
"Many of us don't agree on ways to approach it, but we all agree it needs to be done," said Sharpton.