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Roll Call

Schumer Asks Arizona Governor to Testify on Immigration

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) today invited Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) to testify before a Senate panel about the state’s controversial and far-reaching anti-illegal immigration law.

“I write to invite you to testify at a hearing on Tuesday, April 24 ... entitled ‘Examining the Constitutionality and Prudence of State and Local Governments Enforcing Immigration Law,’” Schumer wrote in today’s letter to Brewer.

Schumer is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, and he also heads the Senate Democrats’ policy and communications unit.

His invitation comes a day after Republican presidential candidates met for a debate in Mesa, Ariz. The state’s law was praised by most of the GOP candidates, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney who called it a “model” for the nation.

Republican presidential candidates have been walking a fine line on immigration issues as they seek to show their base they are tough on illegal immigration in an effort to win the nomination, but not to the point that it alienates Latino voters in the general election — particularly in swing states such as Nevada and New Mexico.

“At this hearing, we will be examining whether it is both constitutional and sound public policy for states to enact broad laws, such as S.B. 1070 in Arizona, that are designed to deter and punish illegal immigration,” Schumer wrote.

The hearing is scheduled for the day before the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the state’s case against the federal government over the constitutionality of Arizona’s immigration law.

The schedule was designed to “make it easier for you to attend the hearing in the event you will already be travelling to Washington, D.C., to attend the oral argument,” Schumer wrote.

He added that he is interested in hearing from Brewer since the implementation of a 2010 federal law that provided more than $600 million of reinforcements for border security.

“This legislation has achieved dramatic results at the border,” Schumer said. “The Border Patrol is better staffed today than at any time in its 87 year history, having doubled the number of agents from approximately 10,000 in 2004 under President [George W.] Bush to more than 21,300 today.

“Given the new level of security at our Southern Border as result of the August 2010 law, it would be extremely beneficial for the Committee to hear from you with regard to: 1) why you signed S.B. 1070 in 2010; 2) whether you still believe S.B. 1070 is necessary in light of the substantially increased security situation along our southern border; and 3) whether you favor S.B. 1070 being made a permanent law irrespective of whether conditions further improve along the southern border,” Schumer continued. “We would also appreciate any other insight you can provide regarding the legality and prudence of enacting state immigration laws. As you frequently ask the president to visit the southern border to discuss border security, we expect that you will be eager to engage in a productive dialogue with the Congressional committee responsible for acting upon any border security recommendations you provide.”

Brewer had a testy confrontation with President Barack Obama last month as she greeted him upon his arrival in Arizona. She told reporters that she had come to invite Obama to tour the border with her, but the president complained that he did not appreciate how her last meeting with him was portrayed in her book, “Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America’s Border.” The White House clarified that Obama had indeed expressed his disappointment with the book, but said he would be happy to meet with Brewer again.

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