WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said on Tuesday that she intends to press the issue of border security in a meeting this week with President Barack Obama at the White House.
Brewer recently signed a controversial bill cracking down on illegal immigrants. The measure that goes into effect at the end of July has drawn criticism and prompted boycotts of the state.
Arizona’s new law has pushed the immigration debate into the political foreground and rebooted a drive by Obama and Senate Democrats to overhaul federal immigration laws.
Brewer told CNN that it was important to sit down with the president and discuss why the Arizona immigration law is needed.
An administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Brewer will meet Obama on Thursday at the White House.
“This administration has dedicated unprecedented resources over the past 16 months to fulfill the federal government’s responsibility to secure the Southwest border. The president looks forward to discussing those efforts and other matters of mutual interest with Governor Brewer,” the official said.
The law Brewer signed in April calls for state and local police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect is in the United States illegally. It has outraged Latinos, civil rights activists and organized labor.
Brewer said on CNN she wanted to explain to Obama the impact that illegal immigration is having on Arizona and other states as well.
Republican backers say the law is needed to curb crime in the desert state, which is home to some 460,000 illegal immigrants and is a furiously trafficked corridor for drug and migrant smugglers from Mexico.
Asked what she might ask of the president when they meet, Brewer said she would tell Obama that Arizona needs its border secured.
“We need your help, we’ve been putting up with this for eight, 10 years, we need it now... We can’t tolerate it any longer, America can’t tolerate it any longer,” Brewer said.
Asked what she would do if Obama told her that the Justice Department might challenge the Arizona law in court.
“I would say ‘Meet you in court.’ I have a pretty good record of winning in court,” the governor responded.
Obama supports a system allowing undocumented immigrants in good standing to pay a fine, learn English and become citizens. He also backs tightening border security and clamping down on employers that hire undocumented workers.
Congressional Democrats have been accused of playing election-year politics by proposing a comprehensive immigration overhaul that critics insist has little chance of success.
Editing by Eric Walsh