Arizona Governor Jan Brewer "Encouraged" by Obama Meeting

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer speaks to reporters outside the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 3, 2010, after a private meeting with President Barack Obama. AP

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer speaks to reporters outside the White House in Washington, Thursday, June 3, 2010, after a private meeting with President Barack Obama.
AP

President Obama sat down today at the White House with Arizona's Republican governor, Jan Brewer, to discuss the controversial immigration measure she signed in April.

The Arizona law requires immigrants in the state to carry documents verifying their immigration status and requires police officers to question a person about his or her immigration status during a "lawful stop" if there is "reasonable suspicion" that person may be in the country illegally.

Mr. Obama has called the measure a "misdirected expression of frustration over our broken immigration system" and suggested it "has the potential of being applied in a discriminatory fashion." He has also asked the Justice Department to consider a legal challenge of the law.

Brewer, for her part, has previously said the president has ignored her requests to work together on border security issues and is ignoring its responsibilities along the border.

The Arizona governor spoke to reporters following the meeting, which she described as "very cordial."

"I am encouraged that there is going to be much better dialogue between the federal government and the state of Arizona," she said. "I hope that's not wishful thinking, I hope it's positive thinking."

Brewer said the president told her officials would head to her state in the next two weeks to see the situation firsthand and to consider how best to deploy federal border security resources. Mr. Obama recently announced plans to request from Congress $500 million and deploy 1,200 National Guard troops to improve southern border security, and Brewer said Mr. Obama indicated the majority of that money and troops would go to Arizona.

Asked about the possibility of a lawsuit, Brewer said the president indicated that he did not want to discuss the matter and "brushed over a little bit." She said she got the impression he is leaving the decision to the Department of Justice.

One reporter asked if Brewer believed Mr. Obama understands the law.

"If he has read the law, I'm sure he understands the law," she replied. According to the White House, the president raised his concerns about the law in the meeting.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Brewer requested the meeting and that Mr. Obama agreed to it because "we're not going to deal with the immigration issue without dealing with what's happening along the border, and certainly Arizona's a big part of that."

In a readout following the meeting, the White House said that "the President had a good meeting" with Brewer.

"Despite the significant improvements, the President acknowledged the understandable frustration that all Americans share about the broken immigration system, and the President and Governor agreed that the lack of action to fix the broken system at the federal level is unacceptable," the White House said.

Asked if she could support comprehensive immigration reform, Brewer said, "I want the border secured first." Asked about that comment, Gibbs replied, "the president believes that those things have to happen together."

In her comments to reporters, Brewer said she wants to see construction begin on a border fence within the next month. She also called her actions on immigration "the right thing to do."

"I think we are protecting the people of Arizona ... and the people of America," she said.

The immigration law is set to go into effect July 29th.

The White House says Mr. Obama's immigration reform plan includes "lasting and dedicated resources by which to secure our borders and make our communities safer; holding unscrupulous employers accountable who hire workers illegally and exploit them and providing clear guidance for the many employers who want to play by the rules; and requiring those who have come here illegally to pay a fine, pay back taxes, learn English, and get right with the law."

In the meeting today, the White House said, "the President urged Governor Brewer to be his partner in working in a bipartisan manner on comprehensive immigration reform to implement the type of smart, sensible, and effective solutions the American people expect and deserve from their federal government."

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