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Brewer takes no stand on Pearce birthright citizenship proposal

Gov. Jan Brewer

Gov. Jan Brewer

Anyone who wants to know where Gov. Jan Brewer stands on Sen. Russell Pearce’s next big illegal immigration proposal will probably have to wait until 2011.

As Pearce prepared for a press conference to announce a 14-state push to abolish birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants, Brewer stayed as neutral as possible on the proposal that would likely be the next flashpoint in the battle over illegal immigration.

“I have not heard all the debate in regards to that. But certainly I will look forward to listening to it and seeing it vetted in the legislative process and make some determination about that,” she said.

Brewer, who rode Pearce’s SB1070 to the GOP nomination and possibly to a full term as governor, said she wouldn’t speculate on a hypothetical piece of legislation, though Pearce has been touting the so-called “anchor babies” proposal since May and has been unabashed in his intention to run a bill next session. It’s the Legislature’s job to craft legislation, Brewer said, and she’ll weigh in on it if that happens.

The governor routinely refuses to voice an opinion on legislation before it’s signed – she waited five days to opine on SB1070 – but wouldn’t even comment on the concept Pearce’s proposal would address.

When asked whether the children of illegal immigrants who are born in this country should be granted citizenship, as the 14th Amendment has long been interpreted, Brewer said only, “I believe that today they are entitled to United States citizenship.”

Brewer’s top campaign advisor, Chuck Coughlin, sidestepped the issue as well. He wouldn’t comment on whether Brewer would support the proposal, or whether the issue could have an impact on her campaign.

“It’s just raw speculation,” Coughlin said.

If Brewer gave any indication of how she would approach a birthright citizenship bill, it was in an answer to questions about whether she was concerned about the federal government filing another lawsuit against Arizona in response to the potential legislation.

“Absolutely. I’m always concerned. No one wants to be in court. No one wants to be fighting with the federal government. Everybody wants to come together and solve the things for the people of Arizona,” she said.

Taking a stand on the issue might have a marginal effect on Brewer’s support as she enters the last weeks of her campaign, though it’s unlikely to have any serious impact, said GOP consultant Chris Baker. Most Americans are conflicted on the issue, he said, and conservatives aren’t going to defect to Democatic nominee Terry Goddard regardless of what she does.

Whatever blowback she would get from either supporting or opposing the bill likely won’t cut too deeply into the double-digit leads she has in most polls, he said.

“At this stage in the game it doesn’t matter,” Baker said.

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