The Governor talks about Arizona’s tough new immigration law, the budget, and her plans to create jobs and grow Arizona’s economy.
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the federal government may challenge Arizona's new illegal immigration law. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are conducting a review of the law, which goes into effect later this summer. Speaking to reporters today, Holder said the law has potential for abuse and a lawsuit is an option. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano says Arizona's new law may place a strain on federal resources. Testifying before a Senate Judiciary Committee, Napolitano said money and staff needed to pursue dangerous immigrants might have to be redirected to handle arrests made under Arizona's new law. Well this all comes just days after the Governor signs Senate Bill 1070 into law. Here to talk about that controversial stroke of the pen, and other issues facing the state, is Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. Good to see you, thanks for joining us.
Jan Brewer: Good to be here with you, Ted.
Ted Simons: So what's new? Were you surprised at the attention, the backlash, the whole nine yards?
Jan Brewer: Well, we certainly got the attention of the state of Arizona, I believe in a positive manner. I'm a little bit surprised at the attention given to Arizona in regards to the complete 50 states and nationally. It is a situation I believe that of course people do understand, what we're facing here. And the polls indicate the people are with us. So that I am grateful for. I think I did the right thing. I reviewed it carefully and cautiously and got briefed by numerous people and listened to legal scholars, and we feel very confident we're on the right track here.
Ted Simons: Were you comfortable signing this bill into law?
Jan Brewer: Yes, I would not have signed it if I wasn't comfortable.
Ted Simons: Explain for those watching, both critics and supporters, why this is good overall for Arizona.
Jan Brewer: Well, I think first and foremost, Arizona has been overrun by illegal immigrants coming into the state of Arizona. We are the gateway. When we are the recipient of the bad things that take place, we have to take action because it's the federal government's responsibility and we have been crying in the wilderness now going on probably 15 years. But recently in the last six, seven years, we have cried out and cried out. When I became governor, that was the first thing on my agenda was to reach out to the Obama administration, asking to help us at the border. You know, send us 250 more National Guard, give us some protection. We know in the state of Arizona, 4 and I think the country understands, too, that we are the recipient of drug cartels, kidnapping, drop houses, people being tortured, people in Mexico being extorted. The list just goes on and on and on, not to mention the damage taking place along the border in reference to the ranchers down there. Their property, their houses being burglarized, cattle being harmed, just unacceptable. And I think that the people of Arizona might have included that we're tired of it and we're going to push back. The legislature I believe, in their wisdom, determined that they had a bill they could work. As it started through the process I had some input and I was able to get certain things addressed that I thought were important. It might not be the perfect bill but it is certainly a direction of which I think we can go. I think it'll be held up as constitutional.
Ted Simons: What did you want to see addressed?
Jan Brewer: Well, certain things in regards to some of the language, and I can't think offhand right now, but they did make changes for me.
Ted Simons: The language regarded racial profiling?
Jan Brewer: It was.
Ted Simons: You mentioned violence at the border, you mentioned problems down there. Someone suggests that a law focusing on the border would make more sense, considering that is ground zero for this entire topic, as opposed to something that is so controversial and will no doubt wind up in someone's courtroom. How do you respond?
Jan Brewer: What would you suggest? That we pass a law saying it's illegal to cross our borders? It's already a federal law that you can't illegally enter America in that manner. The law is not going to make any difference. We have federal laws. We certainly do not have the money to secure the border ourselves. And again, it's a federal responsibility, it's the federal government's responsibility to secure our borders and they have not done that. We are reaping the damage from it. So I began, a couple of days prior to the signing of the bill, I presented my border security plan in regards to what we could do here and what we could afford to do here. I could send the National Guard down there but I couldn't sustain them for any length of time. It would cost about $30 million a year. We don't have that kind of money, everybody knows the deficit and the financial crisis Arizona is facing. We said and I said that I would take $10 million of my stimulus dollars, our dollars, and put it in a fund for grants for local law enforcement. So that would mean they could hire new law enforcement officers or they could in fact pay people overtime and they would make the requests to our office and we would supplement them with grant money, which would sustain them for a while. I contacted the National Guard and requested more aerial surveillance, because we know how important that is, because it's quicker. I think we have two helicopters down there, I requested four more which we will put on the border. That allows the people on the border to have more time of course for intel and reconnaissance kinds of activity down there, along with many other smaller items they would be able to do. That was the first step. The second step was of course signing the bill. I believe what we have accomplished is that we certainly have gotten the attention of the federal government after writing five different letters to the administration, including the President, Director Gates and secretary Napolitano with absolutely no response from them. The people of Arizona are frustrated.
Ted Simons: They are frustrated, and critics of the bill say that it's an obvious sign of frustration. But they also say it's bad public policy. And the President described the bill as misguided. It threatens to undermine basic notions of fairness. Is he wrong?
Jan Brewer: He is wrong. I believe our law basically -- our law mirrors the federal law. And you know, it's just not being enforced. What we've done is mirrored the federal law, and we're going to enforce it.
Ted Simons: The idea that, again, the Latino citizens will inevitably -- and this, again, the critics say, yes, you can try not to racially profile but inevitably something is going to happen. That's a valid argument, don't you think? Can you guarantee that racial profiling is not going to happen?
Jan Brewer: First, let me say that racial profiling is illegal. That is why I did the executive order to request Arizona Peace Officers Commission to come together by May 21st and give me some kind of a plan that can be implemented so the rules are established, so every peace officer, law enforcement officer in the state of Arizona has the rules to go by. You know, it is probably something that probably didn't need to be done, because racial profiling is illegal. But I think everybody should have a list and be trained again. Because I figured at the time that he signed the bill that we have to all be singing off the same songbook. I feel very confident. The people serving on that will be the Attorney General, Director Ryan of the Department of Corrections, Homeland Security, Bobbie Holladay, director of DPS. And these law enforcement officers are sworn to uphold the law, and to protect and to serve. They have been out on our streets. They have more power than probably anybody because we know they can arrest anybody any time they want to. We figure out later whether they are guilty or not in the court system. They have to be very judicious. We have excellent peace officers in the state of Arizona.
Ted Simons: But is it worth the chance of an American citizen being hassled? Even the possibility of that, as well trained and well intentioned as peace officers are, is it worth all of that to go after illegal immigrants in this fashion? Is it worth it?
Jan Brewer: I don't like the word hassled. That's an unfair word. I don't think police officers are out there to hassle people. I think there's probable cause, they would determine on probable cause, and that's what they have been doing in the past. It would be no different than what they are doing today. If they were arrested, then they would be asked for their identification. It is a law that you carry your legal status if you're in America.
Ted Simons: The critics as well will point out that Latino residents, people who aren't here legally, those folks will now not want to go to law enforcement, because they are afraid of being asked for their identification, even if there is a serious criminal next door or they can be a witness, or even if they are a victim to a serious crime. I know the law specifically says when practical, and when it doesn't hinder an investigation. But you're talking about folks who aren't necessarily sophisticated in those ways. Is that a concern of yours?
Jan Brewer: Actually it doesn't say that. It says if you're a victim or a witness you would not be required to show any identification.
Ted Simons: I'm saying we know that. But folks who are here, people who walk across a burning desert and pile into the back of a truck, 20, 30 to a space, are they sophisticated enough to know that? Police chiefs specifically worry about the lack of cooperation from the Latino community, especially those illegals with some serious criminal activity they could be helping with.
Jan Brewer: I don't quite get your question. If they are going to participate as a witness to a crime, they are going to come forward. If they are not, it's something they are not going to do. Whether there is a law or there isn't a law. Today they will not be questioned, whether they are legal or not legal.
Ted Simons: My point is that we would understand that, but maybe some folks not as sophisticated in the law would not understand that, I'm just not going to cooperate.
Jan Brewer: I don't see that as an issue.
Ted Simons: The concerns of the Hispanic community, are you taking those seriously?
Jan Brewer: I take everybody's concerns seriously.
Ted Simons: What are they missing?
Jan Brewer: I think what they are missing is that we are a nation of laws, and that we live by those laws. It's important that everybody obey them or we won't have the wonderful country that we have. It is illegal to cross the border into the United States. We have been overrun and the federal government keeps pushing back and not doing their job. The people of Arizona are frustrated and we're bearing the brunt and the expense and the terror of it all. It's wrong, and I think as governor it would be irresponsible of me not to step up and to try to do something about it. That's what we've attempted to do with Senate Bill 1070.
Ted Simons: Are you planning a way to do something about those concerns of the Latino community? They are upset, they are fearful. Sounds like you think they are wrong to be upset and fearful. How do you address their concerns?
Jan Brewer: I don't believe that the legal immigrants are fearful. No one's going to see you walking down the street and arrest you. They have to have probable cause. It's no different than it is today. I think that there's a lot of hysteria out there. This isn't my first rodeo. I went through all of this when we did voter I.D. at the polls. It was all about profiling there, questioning somebody's legal status here in Arizona. We pushed forward and did education on it and we were sued and we went to court and we won. Today no one even questions the fact that you have to show identification when you go to the polls to vote. I think there has been a huge hype. But if you are here illegally, and you're committing a crime, you will be arrested. And when you're arrested you will be arrested for that crime. And if you are illegal you will be deported.
Ted Simons: So I don't want to get too inside baseball this year. But in a section of the law that says any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or agency where reasonable suspicion occurs, there seems to be a lot of confusion and concern over this. What does lawful contact mean by a peace officer? And what does reasonable suspicion include, when it comes to being in the country illegally?
Jan Brewer: I think reasonable suspicion is the judgment of that police officer. That's why we've got AZ POST putting together the criteria for all of this. I believe they already have that criteria. I think police officers use that every day, reasonable suspicion of somebody that is breaking the law or is a suspect in some kind of crime. So they will use their judgment, that's why we have sworn peace officers. That's what they do, day in and day out. At that point in time they will ask those people what are they doing, why are you doing it. And they will determine on the spot exactly what they are going to do with that alleged suspect.
Ted Simons: It gives them the discretion and allows them to go in different directions, including not asking for identification, correct?
Jan Brewer: Correct.
Ted Simons: But critics say it's not clear. Is there any way to make this more clear, to make this section especially, which is getting all the attention, to get that information out there for the critics, and for those who are fearful about this section of the law? Is there any way to get this information out there?
Jan Brewer: They can read the bill. Several people I have spoken to have complained about the legislation, and I asked them, have you read the bill? They said, actually they hadn't. It is hysteria. It's just unfortunate. We are trying to address the issue of illegal immigration into the state of Arizona. And I believe that as long as we have mirrored the federal law that it will be found constitutional. If they are here illegally, and if they are arrested, they will be deported. When you look at the polls, 70% of the people in Arizona agree with that. I think it's about 68% of the people throughout the United States that agree with that. I know that I have received numerous, numerous e-mails and letters and phone calls from people throughout the country. And they are tired of the illegal immigration and what comes with it. It is up to the federal government to do their job and to protect our borders. Does it have anything to do with race profiling? No. It has to do if you want to come, then you need to come legally.
Ted Simons: The national perception of Arizona, the words like laughing stock and these sorts of things, an embarrassment and this sort of business, that concern you?
Jan Brewer: Of course, it would always concern me, I love the state of Arizona.
Ted Simons: How do we address that?
Jan Brewer: I'm hoping that people will look at the issue and realize what Arizona has faced for the last few years, the irresponsibility of the federal government of not trying to address it. Joe Lieberman came here to the city of Phoenix, along with senator McCain and Senator Kyl and not too far from where we're sitting. I testified and probably said 10 times, 11 times, secure our borders. This has been brewing for a long, long time. It was interesting because Joe said, Senator Lieberman said, we hear you, we hear you, we get it, secure the borders. Because I know, I know that is the issue. We need to have our borders secured. It just falls on deaf ears. It simply falls on deaf ears. The director of Homeland Security probably knows better than anyone. It's quite interesting because she was faced with similar problems when she was here. She cried out, too. Now she's on the other side of the fence, no pun intended, and she's totally ignoring us. California has secured their borders, Texas has secured their borders. We are the gateway, a thousand illegal immigrants come across our border a day. 87% of the people crossing have criminal records.
Ted Simons: The business community is concerned, Office of Tourism, anyone involved with tourism is concerned that the image of Arizona -- you've got a representative suggesting a national boycott of the state. Again, I know where you stand on the issue and what you believe as far as the bill and the rightness of the bill. How do you get that information and that perception out there? Because right now it seems very negative, especially when you're talking about trying to attract business and get economic growth to Arizona. A lot of business concerns are saying this doesn't help, this is not a good image. We are being defined by this, as opposed to other aspects we can offer.
Jan Brewer: On the other side, there are plenty of people concerned about the drug cartels, other bad images that have been portrayed because of the illegal immigration. So we've had numerous contacts from other people saying that, you know, that is hurting our tourism industry. So you know, either this side or that side. The bottom line is that it's illegal immigration, and there's a way to come to the United States legally, and Arizona is not going to bear the brunt and absorb all the costs and have to deal with all the activity that has been promoted by the illegal immigration.
Ted Simons: Last question on this: If there's an injunction, if it goes to court and the courts say not now, we need to look this thing over, and the law doesn't take affect, all the things that could happen because of the law, many people see it could be good things, they don't happen: What do we do? Do we have a plan B?
Jan Brewer: I'm sure at that point in time, we'll have a plan B. We'll leave that up to legal counsel and legal scholars and the legislature and move forward. I believe the people that are looking at this and supporting this are pretty darn confident that this will pass muster.
Ted Simons: The Jobs bill, as we move on real quickly. There seems to be some concern that the concept of business tax cuts and incentives, Speaker Adams had an idea, you have an idea. Sounds like the twain aren't going to meet here. What's going on, what's happening with it?
Jan Brewer: First and foremost, the Jobs bill, which is tax cuts, we just can't afford it. It just simply we cannot afford it. I'm out there trying to encourage people to support Proposition 100 which will raise approximately a billion dollars, and then go in and give away a billion dollars in tax cuts. Philosophically, down the road I think we ought to seriously look at some of the things the speaker has promoted. The bottom line is I have offered a reasonable solution, I felt, of doing some part of that Jobs program. But there is no compromise. The Speaker does not want to compromise. It's either all of it or none of it. And that's unfortunate. What I offered was tax incentive, and not across the board cuts. It would have to be incentive-based. That means they have to provide something more than what they are doing now. You know, you bring in this amount of new jobs at this amount of wage, then you will get a break. But across the board cuts is just irresponsible at this point in time I believe. And simply we can't afford it. Does it make any sense?
Ted Simons: Don't ask me. If I get to speak, we're all in big trouble. You've talked about transforming the commerce department into kind of a public-private agency that promotes business and such. Sounds like that could be in danger if the Speaker doesn't get that jobs bill, give it a little more attention. Are you willing to sacrifice revamping commerce?
Jan Brewer: Do you think he would retaliate like that? I certainly would hope not. A lot of those things I can do by executive order. I am very excited about that, as is the business community. Jerry Colangelo and company and my director of commerce have put a tremendous amount of time and energy into that. Once we get that up and going, we're going to see a wonderful change in the way commerce operates. It won't be just that little hideaway office that harbored a lot of people that were entitled to jobs because of the spoils system. It's going to operate and tick along and do what's right for Arizona and hopefully bring in jobs. Even during the bad times we have been successful with our new director, Don Cardon holding the directorship, we've brought in 2,500 jobs, a billion in capital and more waiting out there. We have been working hands on with these people. Business wants to come to Arizona. They like Arizona.
Ted Simons: With everything that's happened in the past week, are you proud of Arizona? Are you proud of what you did?
Jan Brewer: I am very proud of Arizona. I think it's the greatest stay in the country. I believe that I am proud of myself. I think that I've taken the problems, the issues at hand, and had the courage to stand up and do what's right. I hope the people know I'm doing it because it's the right thing to do. The hard thing but the right thing.
Ted Simons: Governor, good to see you.
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