Since the Arizona legislature passed the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” a bill which will probably end up establishing the harshest set of state immigration laws in the country, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s phone has been reportedly ringing off the hook with residents encouraging her to either sign or veto Senate Bill 1070. Though Brewer has refused to comment on which action she plans on taking, she did assure attendees of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Black and White Ball this Saturday that she will do what is fair. The Phoenix New Times reports:
Speaking to attendees of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Black and White Ball Saturday night at the downtown Phoenix Sheraton, Governor Jan Brewer refused to say whether or not she would sign state Senator Russell Pearce’s police state/anti-immigrant bill SB 1070. But she assured the crowd that she understood its opposition to the measure.
“In regards to Senate Bill 1070,” she stated, “I will tell you that I never make comment, like most governor’s throughout our country, before a bill reaches my desk. But I hear you, and I will assure you that I will do what I believe is the right thing so that everyone is treated fairly.”
Her statement prompted a quip from the following speaker, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, who asked the mostly Latino crowd, “I think what I just heard was a commitment to veto that bill, whatdya think?”
If Brewer is really committed to making sure “everyone is treated fairly,” signing off on SB 1070 would certainly require compromising her stated principles. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona has already predicted that the bill will “exacerbate the problem of racial profiling” which “raises concerns about the prolonged detention of citizens and legal residents.” Given the fact that police officers could arrest anyone who cannot immediately prove they are legally present in the U.S., the New York Times concludes that it “means if you are brown-skinned and leave home without a wallet, you are in trouble.” Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles has called the new Arizona statute “the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law.”
Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times points out that a recent Rasmussen poll shows Brewer “ahead of a wide field of contenders in the GOP gubernatorial primary” with 26 percent support. Given that two-thirds (67%) of Arizona’s GOP primary voters say that a candidate’s position on immigration is “very important” in determining how they will vote, Brewer’s decision on SB 1070 will certainly affect her comfortable lead. While many conservatives may support the bill, Latino republicans have already drawn a thick line in the sand. Somos Republicans, an Arizona Latino Republican group, issued a press statementexplicitly stating that “if Jan Brewer signs SB 1070 next week, members of Somos Republicans and several Arizona Hispanic Republicans will not vote for her in 2010.”
Wonk Room reported last week that former Arizona governor and current Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano recently pointed out that she vetoed at least two similar bills during her time in office because such laws would interfere with public safety and not “allow law enforcement to focus on where law enforcement needs to focus.”
UPDATE: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told reporters today that the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” is “a very important step forward.” “I can fully understand why the legislature would want to act,” said McCain.
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