Interview with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer

Interview with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer

By John King, USA - June 1, 2010

KING: The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors are expected to vote soon on whether to join the boycott of Arizona businesses to protest that state's new immigration law and along the state's border with Mexico agents near Yuma seized more than a half of ton of marijuana in the past few days and arrested 14 suspected smugglers.

Joining me here to go exclusively "One-on-One" and discuss this problem, the Arizona Governor Jan Brewer -- Governor, good to see you.

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: Thank you, John, nice to be here with you.


KING: It's good to have you. Let me start with this. You are here in town. When you made the flight, you weren't sure if you were going to get to see the president of the United States, but the White House now says the president would like to meet with you on Thursday. Why is that important?

BREWER: Well I think it's really, really important because I've been trying to reach out to the administration and certainly to the secretary of homeland security and the secretary of defense --

KING: Even though they say your new law is misguided.

BREWER: Well you know I think we need to sit down and we need to talk about it. You know it -- they can call it what they wish. The fact of the matter is, is that, you know, 80 percent of the American people agree with me. Agree with the state of Arizona. And I think it's important that the president and I sit down and discuss why it is important and explain to him exactly what it is that Arizona is feeling and the impact that it is having on our great state and not only on the great state of Arizona but certainly on America.

KING: So the law takes effect July 29th, I believe.

BREWER: Right. KING: When you signed it, you said, look, I had no choice. The federal government has not kept its responsibility to protect the border, to defend the border. You said you had no choice. Since then, just last week the president announced 1,200 National Guard troops to be deployed to the border, $500 million, he says in additional money for border law enforcement, other security efforts. Is that enough in your mind?

Some have said well, Governor, then why don't you suspend your law, ask the legislature maybe to suspend implementation for three months, six months or nine months, to see if the federal government can step up to the plate and do its job and maybe you don't need it?

BREWER: Well you know I think we need as much help as we can get. And certainly the fact of the matter is back in August of last year, you know, I kept writing and trying to contact and kept pleading for help --

KING: But now that you're getting some, is it good enough to say we'll delay implementation?

BREWER: I'm getting some, but the only way that I've ever heard that I'm getting it is through the news. I haven't received anything formally. I haven't received any letters, any phone calls. No one has contacted my TAG (ph) there in the state of Arizona, General Salazar, so I mean I am sitting here with no really good information. It would be very helpful, I might say if somebody would give me something in writing, telling me what they're sending to Arizona, how is it going to be distributed. Is it going to go to Texas and California and Arizona and New Mexico? Is it all coming to Arizona? We would be grateful if it were. You know, what exactly are their plans?

And that's one reason why I need to sit and I need to talk to them. I need information.

The people of Arizona are discouraged. They're fed up. We've had security flaws on the border for years now. And it's time that we do something about it immediately.

KING: And so what if the president pressed you? What if you came away saying, OK, not everything I want, but this is a pretty good down payment. What if he said, Governor, give me a chance, ask your legislature to delay implementation of this law, give me three months, give me six months? Are you open to that? Or--


KING: You think -- no -- no?


KING: You don't trust him?

(LAUGHTER) BREWER: I don't think it's a matter of trusting him or not. I think that what we've done, we've mirrored a federal law. I think the people of Arizona, certainly people throughout America agree that it is the right thing to do. We've been down this path before with securing our borders in Arizona, and nothing was finished. And so we need to move forward. You know, it's trespassing when you cross the border into Arizona, into the United States. It's trespassing. We need our borders secured.

John, listen, we are faced with terrible things that are happening to our beautiful state.

KING: There are terrible things.

BREWER: Trespassing, drugs--

KING: There was a heinous murder of a rancher down there.

BREWER: Murders.

KING: There are drugs coming across the border. But if you look at FBI statistics, they actually say despite these awful things that violent crime is essentially at a flat rate, even down a little bit. And some would say that, yes, you know, there have been some horrible incidents, but in total, crime's actually down. There's not a need for this.

BREWER: In regards to illegal immigration crime or to what kind of crime? Crime is down in Arizona. The fact of the matter is, if you're living in Arizona and you are living in the areas that are severely impacted, you are faced with it on a daily basis. And we're not going to put up with it anymore. We have borders. Every nation has reasons to have lines, borders, might you say, you know? And a nation without borders is like a house without walls. It collapses. And that's what's going to happen to America. We need our borders secured.

KING: What happens in your state -- there are many states, including your neighbors Utah and New Mexico, that allow people to get a driver's license without proof -- without having to prove legal status. If a Latino were pulled over in your state, if the officers, acting fully in compliance with the law, had reason to pull them over for something and then decided to ask -- inquire about their status, is that good enough? If I'm an Hispanic American from Utah, legally or illegally, I have a driver's license, is that enough? Or do they have to carry better papers?

BREWER: It wouldn't matter whether you were Latino or Hispanic or Norwegian. If you didn't have proof of citizenship and if the police officer had reasonable suspicion, he would ask and verify your citizenship. I mean, that's the way that it is. That's what the federal law says. And that's what the law in Arizona says.

KING: You make a passionate case about the immigration problem. I want to ask you, if cumulatively, you worry at all about the image of your state. The new immigration law passed. There was this policy about reassigning teachers with accents, there was the ethnic studies -- the ban on ethnic studies in some classrooms. As you know, critics have said that your state is sending a message that immigrants, that Latinos are not welcome.

BREWER: I think that's unfair. I don't think that's true. I think that the majority of the people understand exactly what Arizona has done and will continue to do. And it certainly isn't based on racism. And it's unfortunate, but the critics are in the minority. The majority is with Arizona.

KING: I want to ask you, as a Republican governor running for re-election this year, imagine you were 25 or 30 years old, just getting your start in politics. I just wonder if you worry about this, because you're right, a majority of the people in your state, a majority of the people nationally have said they support this new law. But if you look at polling, the standing of Republicans among Latino voters -- and that population is growing dramatically, especially in your state.

BREWER: It is.

KING: If we just -- we asked -- NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, who do you want to control Congress after the election? Democrats have a 35-point advantage over Republicans among Latino voters. Other numbers have showed the Republican Party suffering among them. Do you worry about that as a Republican politician, that in the short term this might help you, but that your party is digging a ditch?

BREWER: Well, I think the big concern is that we want all people to look at us, and as a politician, certainly I want them to know that the Republican Party embraces them. We want them to join our party. I think traditionally, their philosophy is more in line with the Republican Party than the Democrat Party. But we want a beautiful state. We want to be hospitable. We want everybody. We love our diversity in our state. And we want everybody involved. We just don't want illegal immigration and we want our border secured. It's as simple as that. We don't want to pay the price that we have to pay.

KING: Let me ask you in closing, when you sit across the table from the president of the United States, what's your number one -- I don't know whether to call it a demand, a request -- what is it?

BREWER: I think that it would probably be, Mr. President, we need our borders secured. How can we work together to get it done? We need your help. We've been putting up with this for eight, 10 years. We need it now. We can't -- we can't tolerate it any longer. We cannot tolerate it. America can't tolerate it any longer.

KING: And if his answer is, I'm going to do what I announced, but your law is misguided and my Justice Department might sue you?

BREWER: I would say, well, we'll meet you in court. I have a pretty good record of winning in court.

KING: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. We appreciate you stopping in.

BREWER: Thank you. Thank you, John.

KING: Thank you. Let us know how the meeting with the president goes.

BREWER: Thank you.


John King, USA

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