Schumer Asks Arizona Governor to Delay Implementation of Immigration Law

Posted May 6, 2010 at 10:52am

Updated: 2:12 p.m.

Senate Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y) on Thursday called on Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) to impose a one-year delay of her state’s controversial new immigration law in order to allow Congress time to work on comprehensive immigration reform.

In a letter to Brewer, Schumer, who heads the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, also urged the governor to publicly call on Arizona GOP Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain to begin negotiations with him on comprehensive legislation.

In his letter, Schumer argued: “The only way to combat illegal immigration is through comprehensive immigration reform, as it is the only practical solution that can pass in both the House and Senate. A bipartisan bill would likely require completion of significant border security measures, such as the border reinforcements sought by Sens. McCain and Kyl, before any other measures could take effect.”

“I therefore ask you to call on Arizona’s legislature to delay the date of enactment of SB 1070 for 1 year in order to permit Congress sufficient time to enact comprehensive immigration reform to address Arizona’s security needs,” Schumer writes. “This reform, however, cannot pass unless members from both sides of the aisle work together to reach a compromise. Consequently, I also ask that you publicly call on Senators McCain and Kyl to immediately begin discussions with me to enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation before enactment of SB 1070 becomes necessary.”

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) said that suspending the law “makes a lot of sense” and that he is optimistic that comprehensive reform can be completed in the next 12 months.

“I’m hopeful we could pull off immigration reform in a year,” Menendez said.

The Arizona law has fueled passions on both sides of the immigration debate, and at least two municipalities have challenged its legality.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who has been spearheading a targeted boycott designed to build opposition to the new law, called Schumer’s move “an appropriate gesture” but said he’s worried delaying implementation could impede efforts to overturn the law.

“But the real urgency is to overturn this law, and a delay keeps it hanging around as though it could come back to life,” Grijalva said. “Many of us feel … that the fight is now, both legally and politically, on this law, and to delay it – I don’t like that suspended animation stuff. We need to deal with it, and we need to deal with it right now.”