U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is looking to put Gov. Jan Brewer on the hot seat on the eve of April’s SB1070 U.S. Supreme Court hearing when his subcommittee conducts a hearing on state-level illegal immigration enforcement efforts.
In a letter sent to the governor today, Schumer, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, asked Brewer to testify at an April 24 hearing titled “Examining the Constitutionality and Prudence of State and Local Governments Enforcing Immigration Law.”
Schumer, a New York Democrat, left little doubt that the hearing would be unfriendly toward SB1070 and Brewer’s views on border security and illegal immigration.
“At his hearing, we will be examining whether it is both constitutional and sound public policy for states to enact broad laws, such as SB1070 in Arizona, that are designed to deter and punish illegal immigration,” Schumer wrote. “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.”
Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson called Schumer’s invitation a publicity and political stunt, and said she wouldn’t testify at the hearing.
“Talk about a publicity stunt. The last thing the American people need is more bloviating from Congress when it comes to illegal immigration. It’s time for action,” Benson said. “The governor doesn’t see a reason to participate in that at this point, especially with the case finally having its critical moment before the Supreme Court. That’s where the action will be, as opposed to this congressional hearing where members of congress can talk some more.”
Benson said the committee has clearly already made up its mind about SB1070. If Schumer is interested in border security, he said, he should come visit the Arizona-Mexico border.
“Furthermore, if they’re going to hold a congressional hearing, I would suggest they invite Attorney General Holder and the other individuals who had a hand in Fast and Furious. That at least might be enlightening,” Benson said.
In his letter, Schumer noted that he sponsored a 2010 appropriations act that put 1,000 new Border Patrol agents on the border and 250 more at ports of entry, among other provisions. He said the $600 million legislation had “dramatic results,” and questioned why Arizona would need to enact its own illegal immigration laws in light of those results.
Considering the impact of the Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, which was passed about four months after Brewer signed the landmark illegal immigration bill, Schumer said he wanted the governor to tell the committee why she signed SB1070; whether she still believes it is necessary, and whether it should be made permanent law, “irrespective of whether conditions further improve along the southern border.”
In fact, Schumer said the hearing was scheduled for the day before Brewer is scheduled to attend oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court so it would be easier for her to testify before the committee.
“I … hope to be able to see you at our hearing to discuss how best to protect the people of Arizona and the United States in a manner that is legal, effective and in accordance with America’s finest values and traditions,” Schumer wrote.