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Ariz. Gov. Brewer likely to skip Senate hearing on immigration

Spokesman dismisses event as a ‘publicity stunt’

- The Washington Times - Friday, February 24, 2012

PHOENIX — Democrats on Thursday invited Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to testify to the Senate in April on her state's tough immigration law, but her spokesman said she's not likely to attend "a publicity stunt."

"It doesn't appear that this would be the most productive hearing for Governor Brewer to attend," Matthew Benson, the spokesman, told The Washington Times on Thursday night.

Ms. Brewer, who got into a famous finger-wagging exchange with President Obama earlier this year, has championed the law, which allows police to question the immigration status of those they engage in their regular duties.

Arizona is due to defend the law before the Supreme Court on April 25, after the Obama administration sued to block key parts from going into effect. Lower courts have sided with the administration.

In a letter Thursday to Ms. Brewer, Sen. Charles Schumer, New York Democrat and chairman of the Senate's immigration subcommittee, asked her to testify before his panel on April 24 in defense of the law.

"As you frequently ask the president to visit the southern border to discuss border security, we expect that you will be eager to engage in a productive dialogue with the congressional committee responsible for acting upon any border security recommendations you provide," Mr. Schumer wrote in the letter.

He also said the border is improving, and credited a bill he sponsored in 2010 for boosting the number of Border Patrol agents and for purchasing more surveillance equipment.

But Mr. Benson, the governor's spokesman, said the hearing seems more about scoring political points than acting to help the border.

"Talk about a publicity stunt," he said. "The fact is that it's due to inaction by individuals like Senator Schumer that this country is in this mess with border enforcement in the first place."

He also suggested that the New York Democrat's efforts might be better directed toward an investigation of Operation Fast and Furious, a Justice Department operation that led to thousands of guns knowingly being sold to buyers for Mexican drug cartels.

At least two of those weapons turned up at the scene where a Border Patrol agent was gunned down in Arizona in 2010.

In Washington, House Republicans are conducting an investigation into the operation, and in Arizona the state's House of Representatives has convened a panel to look into whether the operation broke any state laws.

Arizona's immigration law and copycat laws in South Carolina and elsewhere have been a dominant theme in the Republican presidential nomination battle.

On Wednesday, in a GOP primary debate in Mesa, Ariz., former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney called the state's law "a model" for the rest of the country.

And he and the rest of the GOP presidential field have vowed to drop the federal government's lawsuit against the state.

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