- The Washington Times - Monday, May 9, 2005

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday said groups such as the Minuteman Project are rising up to guard the border against illegal aliens because the federal government is failing to secure the nation.

The project brought together more than 800 volunteers to guard a 23-mile stretch of the Arizona border last month as a protest against lax immigration policies. A similar protest is planned for San Diego in October.

“We are not saying that yes, that we endorse that the Minutemen should do the job,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “We are saying that the federal government should do the job, but if the federal government falls short of doing their job and they have [not] fulfilled their responsibility and the promise to the people, then the average citizen will rise up and will do their job, and that’s what they do.”

The Republican governor retracted a recent statement that the borders should be “closed,” saying he meant the borders should be “secured” against illegal aliens and terrorists.

More manpower is needed on the borders, and the federal government has the funds, but politicians lack the willpower to beef up security, Mr. Schwarzenegger said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“That’s what you do when you have a huge country, you have thousands of miles and thousands of cities in America, and they all have to be patrolled and they all have police, they all have the highway patrol, they all have the sheriffs and all of this. We have the money to do it. It is not a lack of money. When we can afford the war in Iraq, we can afford to control our own borders,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said.

“I think that there is an outcry by the people of America about the immigration situation, and I think that the federal government has to solve it,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said.

The governor is battling with the Democrat-controlled state Legislature for pension reforms and to reduce the state’s $22 billion deficit, and his approval ratings have slipped below 50 percent. The May cover of Washington Monthly magazine says the former action-hero actor is looking less like former governor and president, Ronald Reagan, and more like former Minnesota governor and professional wrestler, Jesse Ventura.

Asked about both by host Chris Wallace, Mr. Schwarzenegger said “leading is not about popularity. You have to make decisions that will be good in the long run, but maybe they’re tough in the short run.”

Mr. Schwarzenegger said California’s state pension system is “on a track to disaster,” and that if the Legislature does not pass his reform policy, he will put it before the voters in a special election next month.

“If the legislators don’t act, and if they don’t do their job to create the reforms with me, then I will definitely go to a special election. There’s no two ways about it,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said.

He dismissed as “absolutely untrue” rumors that his wife, Maria Shriver, is unhappy with his drop in the polls or that she is trying to shake up her husband’s administration.

“Maria was always by my side and always was participating in all decision making, in my movie career, in my business and now also in politics. We are partners. That’s why I got married, to have a great partner,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said. “Don’t buy into all the things that the other side is saying.

“It’s absolutely wrong. Those are all tactics, but it is not going to work. My office is strong, we are in one lane, and this is a lane to victory. That’s what we’re doing,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said.

Jerry Seper contributed to this report

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