PHOENIX - Gov. Jan Brewer asserted Tuesday that Arizona's precedent-setting 2010 law aimed at illegal immigration helped pave the way for the kind of legislation now being considered in Congress.
In an interview on the third anniversary of her signing SB 1070, Brewer acknowledged some key pieces of that measure never took effect. They were enjoined by a judge and eventually declared illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Two other provisions that survived an initial challenge have since been placed on hold by a federal court while their provisions are reviewed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Brewer pointed out, though, that the nation's high court last year did permit the state to require police officers to question those they have stopped about their immigration status. "And law enforcement is utilizing that provision of it," she said.
Brewer said the law, and even the legal fights and publicity surrounding it, set the stage for the bipartisan congressional proposal on immigration, covering everything from border security to a path to citizenship for those already here. "I think it was the impetus that created the awareness of what we're facing in Arizona and the effects that it's having throughout the country."
But Brewer, in her first direct comments on the federal legislation, said she remains skeptical that what the so-called Gang of Eight produced is the solution the country needs. Lack of specifics is one concern. For example, Brewer noted the measure calls for up to 3,500 additional Border Patrol agents and use of new technology to monitor the border, and it authorizes the deployment of the National Guard to help. She wants to know where all that's going to go, and when.
More pressing, Brewer said she wants to be sure everything else in the measure, including the path to citizenship for the 11 million who are in this country illegally, does not overshadow what she believes is the first priority of securing the border.
Brewer harked back to 1986, when Congress and the Reagan administration approved what was billed at the time as a comprehensive solution to the issue of illegal immigration. The result, she said, was 3 million gained U.S. citizenship. But the border remained unsecured, and people continued to cross the border illegally and overstay their visas.
"We don't want to see that replay itself again," she said.
On StarNet: View a timeline of SB 1070 at timeline.azstarnet.com/SB1070