Brewer slams Obama's immigration plan as political pandering

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Gov. Jan Brewer blasted President Barack Obama Friday for taking what she called a "pre-emptive strike" against the state's tough illegal immigration enforcement law.

Brewer's harsh comments came after the president announced plans to let certain illegal immigrants to stay in the country without fear of deportation.

The governor also accused Obama of political pandering in an election year and said the country needs to secure its borders before overhauling its immigration system.

"It is no coincidence that this sweeping policy change was announced less than five months before a presidential election," she said during a late morning press conference.

"Most importantly this unilateral act is a pre-emptive strike against the United States Supreme Court and its decision on Senate Bill 1070, which may come as early as this Monday.

Some media organizations have reported the nation's High Court could issue a ruling this Monday on the state's well-known illegal immigration measure.

Since state lawmakers here passed the bill that allows law enforcement to question the immigration status of someone if there is "reasonable suspicion,” major elements have been blocked from taking effect.

Should the justices uphold the law as it was originally passed, Brewer says the president’s decision could undercut the bill's effectiveness.

"The crux of Senate Bill 1070, of course, is documentation," Brewer said. "And what he has done by his announcement today is that he's going to give documentation to nearly a million people that have arrived in our country illegally and not by the rule of law.

Since signing the bill into law in 2010, Brewer has become one of the leading proponents of tougher illegal immigration laws. And less than an hour after holding a press conference at the Capitol, the governor was on Fox News speaking to a nationwide audience.

Hurling sharp criticism at the president is nothing new for the Arizona governor. Brewer has been highly critical of Obama since she took office in 2009.

Not only has she slammed Obama and his immigration policies, but she has also been outspoken in her opposition to his sweeping overhaul of the nation’s healthcare system. 

Beyond security issues, Brewer said Friday that she was also worried about what Obama's executive order would do to unemployed workers.

"He's going to give documentation to nearly one more million people to allow them to go to work," she said. "The economy is down, job growth is better in Arizona but down over the United States and they're going to be competing with jobs with people that have come here legally."

Obama made the sweeping changes by executive order, which has the same force as a law. By issuing such an order, Obama was able to maneuver around Congress, which blocked the so-called Dream Act in 2010.

That measure included many of the same elements of Obama's executive order, except it went a step further. Had the Dream Act become law, qualified illegal immigrants would be granted citizenship.

That's not the case right now. Starting today, illegal immigrants under 30 who can prove they migrated here before they were 16 and have lived here for at least five years will be allowed to stay without the fear of getting kicked out of the country.

They must also have a no criminal record and have earned a high school diploma, or still be in school or served time in the military. According to published reports, younger immigrants who qualify will get a deferment from deportation. The president called his decision a temporary fix.