Governor Jan Brewer said Friday that the motivation of "a lot" of the illegal immigrants is to enter the United States to look for work, but that drug rings press them into duty as drug "mules."
"I believe today, under the circumstances that we're facing, that the majority of the illegal trespassers that are coming into the state of Arizona are under the direction and control of organized drug cartels and they are bringing drugs in," Brewer said.
More Coverage on Immigration:
Immigrant Families Leave Arizona And Tough New Law
Nebraska Town Clamps Down on Illegal Immigrants
Ariz. Lawmaker: Stop Automatic Citizenship
GOP Nominee Proposes Landmines For Mexico Border
"There's strong information to us that they come as illegal people wanting to come to work. Then they are accosted and they become subjects of the drug cartel," she said.
Brewer spoke Friday when asked about comments she made in a recent election debate among Republican candidates for governor.
She said during the June 15 debate that she believed that most illegal immigrants were not entering the United States for work. She then associated illegal immigrants with drug smuggling, drop houses, extortion and other criminal activity.
Brewer on April 23 signed a controversial new state immigration enforcement law that will take effect July 29 unless blocked by a court. Five legal challenges are already pending in federal court already, and the U.S. Justice Department its own challenge.
The Arizona law requires police officers enforcing another law to question a person's immigration status if there's a reasonable suspicion that he or she is in the country illegally.