Arizona immigration law controversy hits border governors’ conference
The simmering row over Arizona’s tough-as-nails immigration law has led to a shift in venue for the U.S.-Mexico border governors’ meeting, an annual event usually characterized by unity and good will.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, canceled the bash she was due to host after six border governors from Mexico pulled out in protest at the desert state’s crackdown on unauthorized immigrants she inked into law in late April.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat, stepped in this week to save the meeting which is now set to take place in Santa Fe in late September — although full attendance looks doubtful in the poisoned atmosphere that lingers.
“Governor Richardson is working with other governors to craft a tight, but productive agenda that focuses on the most pressing issues in the border region,” Gilbert Gallegos, Richardson’s deputy chief of staff, told Reuters on Friday.
“Obviously, all border governors are welcome and encouraged to attend, although the governors of Arizona and Texas have said they are not interested in joining a dialogue with their border colleagues,” he added.
Arizona’s controversial new law requires state and local police to investigate the immigration status of anyone that they reasonably suspect to be in the country illegally, in the course of a lawful contact such as a traffic stop.
A majority of Americans support it, according to recent polls, although President Barack Obama’s administration is trying to overturn it, arguing that it is unlawful and will sap police resources.
The measure — which comes into effect on July 29, barring a successful court challenge — has reopened a vitriolic debate over illegal immigration in this U.S. election year, where Obama’s Democratic Party is fighting to hold on to control of the U.S. Congress.
In a recent sign of simmering ire over the issue, an unidentified person or persons mailed a list of 1,300 alleged illegal immigrants said to be living and working in Utah to reporters, police and government officials.
The list gave names and personal details of the individuals, and demanded that they be deported. News reports on Friday said that Utah officials had identified two state employees who had accessed confidential information to compile the list.
Photo credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott (Demonstrators against Arizona immigration law in Phoenix)