The Obama/Brewer Meeting: It’s Not Just About What Arizona Has Done; It’s About What Washington Has Not Done

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Michael Earls
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The Obama/Brewer Meeting: It’s Not Just About What Arizona Has Done; It’s About What Washington Has Not Done

Three Key Points for President Obama as he Prepares for the Thursday Meeting

WASHINGTON - The news of
President Obama’s upcoming meeting on Thursday with Arizona Governor Jan
Brewer (R-AZ) offers an opportunity for President Obama to take back
control of the immigration debate.  Below are three important points for
President Obama to remember as he prepares for the meeting:

1. The
public wants Washington to step up on immigration reform
:  President Obama needs to understand the
sentiments underlying the Arizona law and its popularity.  The American
people are clamoring for action on immigration reform and want the issue
addressed at the national level.  In absence of federal action on
comprehensive reform, however, they will support Arizona-like laws to
the detriment of public safety and civil rights.  In new bipartisan polling,
Lake Research Partners and Public Opinion Strategies found that three
out of five voters supported the Arizona law.  However, four out of five
of the same voters who support the Arizona law also support
comprehensive immigration reform with a path to legal status for
undocumented immigrants; only one out of five of these voters support
deportation as the preferred policy option when asked what to do about
the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. 

2. “No
More Arizonas”
:  President
Obama needs to exert leadership to staunch the spread of other state
laws modeled after Arizona’s.  The popularity of Arizona’s law should
not obscure the President or anyone else from recognizing the damages
the Arizona law will inflict on the state and its residents –
undocumented and citizens alike.  Conservative columnist Ruben
Navarrette Jr. summed up the consequences well today, writing,
“Here are the facts: (1) Arizona lawmakers have boxed police officers in
with a law that requires them -- under threat of litigation -- to check
the citizenship of anyone they suspect of being in the country
illegally once they make contact due to an alleged infraction; (2) the
list of "infractions" is broad enough to include everything from
trespassing to vagrancy to soliciting work to attending a party where
the music is too loud; and (3) police officers are going to do
everything they can to fulfill their obligations under the law.”  The
President and Members of Congress from both parties must recognize that a
state-by-state patchwork of Arizona-like laws promises to worsen the
existing problems of our broken immigration system.  We need to stop the
spread of Arizona and instead enact a national solution in the form of
comprehensive immigration reform.

3. Where
are the GOP champions?

President Obama needs to secure a commitment from Governor Brewer to
lobby her home-state Senators to be champions of reform.  While the
President needs to exert more muscle in pursuing comprehensive
immigration reform, he’s right in pointing out that Republicans
aren’t exactly making a good faith effort
to work to solve
the immigration problem.  Past comprehensive reform champions John
McCain (R-AZ) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) are content to substitute tough talk
about border security for the broader real solutions offered by
comprehensive reform – border enforcement is a necessary but
insufficient part of getting immigration reform right.  It does nothing
to stop the jobs magnet or bring the 11 million unauthorized immigrants
into the system legally.  And it does nothing to reform our legal
immigration system so that it can respond flexibly to future labor
market needs.  Governor Brewer highlights federal inaction as the reason
for her signing of the Arizona law – she should instead point her
finger at her home-state Senators McCain and Kyl, who appear motivated
more by primary politics than a real desire to solve the problem.

According
to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, "The meeting
between President Obama and Governor Brewer is not only about what
Arizona has done; it is about what Washington hasn't done.  The Arizona
law is a travesty and will spread to other states unless Washington
steps up and addresses the public’s desperate desire to fix the nation’s
dysfunctional immigration system once and for all.  The same folks who
support the harsh Arizona law support even more strongly a humane,
comprehensive immigration reform level at the Federal level.  It’s now a
question of who frames the debate and who leans into it with
leadership.  If President Obama doesn’t, people like Governor Brewer
will."

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America's Voice -- Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform. The mission of America’s Voice is to realize the promise of workable and humane comprehensive immigration reform. Our goal is to build the public support and create the political momentum for reforms that will transform a dysfunctional immigration system that does not work into a regulatory system that does.

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