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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer explains signing nation's toughest illegal immigration law

Mexico US Border Fence

Remarks by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, as provided by her office

Thank you for being here today, to join me as we take another step forward in protecting the state of Arizona.

The bill I’m about to sign into law – Senate Bill 1070 – represents another tool for our state to use as we work to solve a crisis we did not create and the federal government has refused to fix the crisis caused by illegal immigration and Arizona’s porous border.

This bill, the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, strengthens the laws of our state.

It protects all of us, every Arizona citizen and everyone here in our state lawfully.

And, it does so while ensuring that the constitutional rights of ALL in Arizona remain solid -- stable and steadfast.

I will now sign Senate Bill 1070.

For weeks, this legislation has been the subject of....

...vigorous debate and intense criticism. My decision to sign it was by no means made lightly.

I have listened patiently to both sides. I have considered the significance of this new law long into the night. I have prayed for strength and prayed for our state.

I’ve decided to sign Senate Bill 1070 into law because, though many people disagree, I firmly believe it represents what’s best for Arizona. Border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues to the people of our state, to my Administration and to me, as your Governor and as a citizen.

There is no higher priority than protecting the citizens of Arizona. We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of drug cartels. We cannot stand idly by as drop houses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life.

We cannot delay while the destruction happening south of our international border creeps its way north.

We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act.

But decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.

Yesterday, I announced the steps I was taking to enhance security along our border.

Today – with my unwavering signature on this legislation – Arizona strengthens its security WITHIN our borders.

Let me be clear, though: My signature today represents my steadfast support for enforcing the law — both AGAINST illegal immigration AND against racial profiling.

This legislation mirrors federal laws regarding immigration enforcement. 

Despite erroneous and misleading statements suggesting otherwise, the new state misdemeanor crime of willful failure to complete or carry an alien registration document is adopted, verbatim, from the same offense found in federal statute. 

I will NOT tolerate racial discrimination or racial profiling in Arizona.

Because I feel so strongly on this subject, I worked for weeks with legislators to amend SB 1070, to strengthen its civil rights protections.

That effort led to new language in the bill, language prohibiting law enforcement officers from “solely considering race, color, or national origin in implementing the requirements of this section…”

The bill already required that it “shall be implemented in a manner consistent with federal laws regulating immigration, protecting the civil rights of all persons and respecting the privileges and immunities of United States citizens.”

Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer

While the general protection was already included, I believe the issue is so important, we needed to make it CRYSTAL clear.

And I believe that we need to more than simply inscribe it in statute.

Words in a law book are of no use if our police officers are not properly trained on the provisions of SB 1070, including its civil rights provisions.

Today I am issuing an executive order directing the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board – AZPOST -- to develop training to appropriately implement SB 1070. 

Importantly, this training will include what DOES – and DOES NOT – constitute “reasonable suspicion” that a person is not legally present in the United States.

Currently, AZPOST serves approximately 170 law enforcement agencies encompassing over 16,000 sworn peace officers, 9,000 correctional service officers, and 16 training academies. 

The AZPOST Board of Directors includes the Arizona Attorney General, the Directors of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Arizona Department of Corrections, several county sheriffs, and local police departments. 

I am also asking the Board to make recommendations on possible improvements to SB 1070 before the end of the year.

For 28 years in public service, I have worked without fail to solve problems diligently and practically. I have done so always with an eye toward civility, and always with the greatest respect for the rule of law.

This new law is no different: As committed as I am to protecting our state from crime associated with illegal immigration I am EQUALLY committed to holding law enforcement accountable should this statute ever be misused to violate an individual’s rights.

Respect for the rule of law means respect for every law. I have led that way every day in every office I have ever held. That will not change.

I have also spent my career in service to Arizona working to bring people together, no matter the color of their skin and no matter the depth of our disagreements.

This bill – and this issue – will be no exception.

While protecting our citizens is paramount, it cannot come at the expense of the diversity that has made Arizona so great. Nor can safety mean a compromise of freedom for some, while we, the many, turn a blind eye.

We must acknowledge the truth – people across America are watching Arizona, seeing how we implement this law, ready to jump on even the slightest misstep.

Some of those people from outside our state have an interest in seeing us fail.

They will wait for a single slip-up, one mistake, and then they will work day and night to create headlines and get the face time they so desperately covet.

We cannot give them that chance.

We must use this new tool wisely, and fight for our safety with the honor Arizona deserves.

We must react calmly.

We must enforce the law evenly, and without regard to skin color, accent, or social status.

We must prove the alarmists and the cynics wrong.

I know in my heart that this great state, my home for more than 40 years, is up to the task.

I believe every one of us wants to be safe, and none of us wants to compromise on the subject of civil rights.

I believe we must love and honor those who fight beside us – just as we must love and honor those who look and believe nothing like we do.

I believe Arizona, like America, is governed by laws.

Good laws … well-intentioned laws … laws that confer respect and that demand respect in return.

In his third State of the Union address, President Theodore Roosevelt said, “No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor.”

So, let us move forward -- ever mindful of our rights …-- ever faithful to the law … and ever conscious of our bond as Arizonans, and the blessing we share together. Thank you.    ####

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Photo: Associated Press; KJZZ (Brewer).

Comments () | Archives (26)

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Why don't they just burn the constitution and declare martial law? Seems simpler, and more honest to boot.

Way to go Arizona! Perhaps the rest of our Great Nation will have the courage to protect its citizens from all illegal immigration. Arizona has taken those steps. Steps that many states in our country lack the courage to do.

The Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer, has expressed herself well. Even though I was once an illegal, I sympathize with her and our AZ neighbors. I understand their dilemma. In my view there is no big difference between legal and illegal aliens: anyone who comes here has no other choice left. It is difficult to come here either way. Both risk losing life, limb or their only savings. They both lose friends, relatives and proximity to their homeland. Both groups come here out of desperation. They come here hoping that this great land, land of plenty, land of opportunity, will allow them a tiny space in which to eek out a living. Both are willing to work hard to earn their living. Stop anyone from either group in the street and they will tell you how thankful they are for the opportunities they lacked in their native countries. It is difficult to tell them apart. I couldn't tell them apart--and I've been a member of both groups.

I, too, despise those that come here and take advantage of the system. Legal or illegal, if you come to take advantage, rob or murder, you deserve to be kicked out. But if you're pulled from work or a bus or an apartment to be kicked out, although it is now legal in Arizona, it is also being blind to justice. We must be careful equating legality with justice for they are not the same thing. Remember that this nation has continually gone back to improve on what our forefathers intended with amendments to the constitution and other acts. Recall that corrections were made to laws that were once thought just. Our neighbors would do well if they are mindful of this as they enter this new phase. I sincerely wish them the best.

Finally! So Mario where do you think the line should be drawn as to what is "legal" and whats not. So maybe stealing "just a little" should be ok or is that wrong? Thats the issue, the law is the law, whether YOU agree with it doesn't really matter, IT'S THE lAW! The Federal government has not upheld it's responsibilities to it's CITIZENS. It's funny you say as a once illegal you say,"I couldn't tell them apart", BS! I have been in the construction trades for 30 years and I can pick an Illegal out of a crowd anywhere and have done it! Arizona is doing what ALL border states should do, after all the Feds are failing to enforce the laws, someone has to step up. Congratulations Arizona at least your state has strong leadership!

Will they be checking white people with Australian, British, Irish , South African and other accents? The most common method for those folks is to live and work for years on expired visas. It's actually a joke. I know of a British national here in Southern California who had registered to vote and was allowed to vote in all the elections and he would laugh how the little old ladies volunteering at the polling station would give him the ballot, no questions asked. He may have a had a green card, but definitely didn't have citizenship.

I say start with the westside. I'd like to know how many of those Europeans are legal.

It is unfortunate that Brewer, like so many ignorant politics, have yet to realize a simple truth. Unless you're white, racial profiling is a fact of life. Particularly in the life of Anglo-trigger happy law enforcement. So, there you have it. Go ahead and burn the constitution and declare martial law and perhaps folks will wake up and realize that all are immigrants except the red man.


Can I see your papers please?
Every person with a tan or darker skin color is going to be harassed by the police. How many American citizens will be arrested by cops who don't believe the person that they are stopping. How many Americans will be asked for their driver's license and more (a birth certificate). Come on, who carries a birth certificate with them?

I can only say, I am glad I don't live in Arizona. WTF?? What's next?

Look, these republican governments need only to make it a crime for employers to hire illegals, then they(the illegals) will not come here. But no!. They don't want to stop employers from using cheap labor.

How many illegals will be victims of "good" Americans, those that will rob, rape, and victimize the illegals just knowing that they (the illegals) cannot go to the police. Isn't it wonderful?

Thank you Jan Brewer, for standing up in the face of ignorance and thank you for not only standing up for Arizona but for America as a country. People who believe "immigration law" = "racism" are ignorant, uneducated, and apparently just plain unintelligent.

3 Cheers for Gov. Jan Brewer! I am a Desert Storm Veteran & I love America. We all must fight for our families & our jobs to live. This is going to protect us and help the police keep drug dealers from running over us. Let us all agree with Arizona and have all the states do the same. Keep America the HOME OF THE BRAVE. Your children are watching to see if your weak or strong.

The illegal aliens are the cause of the violence in the border ?...the culprits of the violence are the drug addicts and "recreational drug" users who spend thousand of dollars getting high.

I live in the Phoenix area and this is our news for the week: ICE raided an employer and found 300 of 1500 workers of a grocery chain to be illegals and using fraudulent ID's. Of the 87 Phx employers that they audited by ICE, 43 had illegals using someone else's ID. 67 Illegals were found in a UHaul van 20 miles north of AZ border. A house raided and 2 human smuggler found with a dozen illegals tied up in a room. A truck found with 70lbs of marijuana just north of AZ border.

These are very common news story in AZ. Jobs are taken, drugs and violent escalating over the border into AZ's populous cities and overcrowding in our school systems is the result of illegals in this state. Our Governor had to do something as our Govt does not have this issue on their agenda to tackle. We live here and witness these events, so Obama and those out of state protestors needs to live here and see the effects before giving their own "misguided" opinions!

My family immigrated over and my mother got her citizenship as soon as she could but couldn't afford it for the 3 kids as she was a single mom. She taught us to work hard and love our country. The rest of us got it when we were old enough to do it ourselves. I support the immigrants who abide by the law and wish them all best that America can give once they become legal citizens!

Brewer fell for it hook,line and sinker. The Mormons who control AZ tell her when to go and come. The Mormons want one of their own and with this fiasco, she will never be reelected.

Governor Brewer casts this bill as a public safety issue, yet in Arizona (as elsewhere in the U.S.) violent crime rates have been falling steadily for the last twenty years; the homicide rate per hundred thousand residents dropped in 2008 to the level of 1968. These are publicly available law enforcement statistics. What's the source of the hysteria here? And why is a state legislature writing law based on passion rather than on evidence? The state's time and resources would be better spent intensifying law enforcement efforts in cities like Phoenix, where crime isn't so clearly in decline. It's hard to see just how this bill will do much to address urban crime, although it will probably make a lot of Mexican immigrants and their descendants, legal and illegal, anxious and alienated. What's gained, exactly?

Hi guys...want a tip on how to make some dough courtesy of Jan Brewer and the taxpayers of Arizona ? if you dont look hispanic, use some suntan lotion to look brown, take a friend with a video camera, put on a big sombrero and walk around a "Home Depot" in Tucson, when a police arrives and question you, make a big fuss about being "racially profiled" and sue the police department for violating your civil rights, and if the police DONT question you, have your friend sue the police department because there was a guy who look like an "Alien Invader" walking outside the Home Depot and the police failed to act and question this individual, who could potentially be a dangerous alien invader, is a win-win situation, repeat until the state of Arizona goes bankrupt...that will teach the bigots a lesson.

To Don Marshall. Recall that the stamp act was also a law and luckily the colonies refused to obey it. Also, separate but equal was also the law for over 60 years, yet it was recalled. All I said was that there are unjust laws. Regarding your 30 years experience in a trade makes you a master craftsman, but it does not make you an expert in racial profiling--which is exactly why this law is not good. Read the other comments here. There are untold numbers of illegals from European and Canadian extracts. You could never pick these law breakers out. The only ones you could pick out are those that are dark skinned, don't speak English and work in your trade, maybe. Lastly, the officers enforcing this law will not have the benefit of 30 years in all the possible trades where illegals are employed. In my view, this law is unjust and it will lead to many patriotic folks to resent it. This can't be a good thing for a nation to stay united.

You can pick out a Canadian by talking to them. Pretty obvious.

We love you Jan! Jan Brewer for president, 2012!

If only the entire nation would take the courage to protect its citizens from ALL illegal immigration we would have a strong country again. If you’re not illegal here then you should have nothing to fear. Carry your documents with you - seems easy enough. Kind of like when we drive here we have to have a license and insurance. Isn't it funny that being a citizen we are required by law to uphold the law but if you are illegal then all of a sudden the word discrimination is yelled? If you want to yell discrimination then look towards the individuals that are citizens’ of the US because we are so tired of having to prove that we are born and raised here all because there is such an issue with illegal immigration. So finally someone with a backbone that will take care and do something about the problem that not only resides in the state of Arizona.

I have a simple question and please correct me if I'm wrong.  Isn't it suppose to be against the Law of the United States to be in this country illegaly?

@Michael Davis. People like you keep thinking that this law will somehow deal with drug dealers. But almost all drug dealers in the US are US citizens, and a law that makes it illegal to not carry citizenship documents wont stop US citizens from selling drugs to each other.

If there's an uglier thing they could build in the desert than that wall, it would have to be something invented in Arizona.

Unethical. Immoral. You should be ashame of yourself. This country does not belong to you or any of us. It belongs to the Natives American. Your great grandmother was an immigrant herself. Was she legal? Why did she have to change her last name?

Stopping anyone that looks Latino and searching them for their immigration status is UNETHICAL. Would you like it if you were in their shoes and being harassed for your color of skin.

May God help you.

Someone point out in this law where the provisions to STRENGTHEN BORDER SECURITY are outlined. Please. Oh, that's right, you can't because the law does NOTHING TO STRENGTHEN BORDER SECURITY OR STOP ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION -- you know, the two things EVERY politician sucking up to the law claim it does. How ignorant must one be to buy into this crap?

You Citizens of Arizona are NOONE to decide who can or can not enter to this country, who can or can not get a job. That is the reason why there so much Violence in the world, because of people like you. People afraid of changing. Immigrants have proven excelence in their performance, immigrants have colaborated in America's largest projects.

Are you guys trying to make a difference????? B%$#%^. Good Luck to you in the growth of your nation, full of Americans who do not ever or will appreciate.

This place was created for a Great Leader. A leader who did not specify nationalities , race or color when creating the entire planet.

NOT YOU!!! The Final end is close now, PERHAPS you remember what you started against all immigrants.

As long as there is a social net including medical care, schools, public health and legal infrastructure, the US must enforce it's borders. It is up to the people of the US to defend their borders and interior from all enemies domestic and foreign and masses of uneducated ignorant peasants spreading poverty, overpopulation and gang culture is not something that the citizens of the US are obligated to accept. It is time to send all illegals back to their respective home lands and stop the madness of birthright citizenship immediately.

Ever wonder why all these states are going broke? The illegals are not paying taxes and sucking up all the benefits that should be used for the American's
that need them. Fill out the paper work , and start paying taxes and bide by our
laws or go home. Cut off all their rights and they will leave with out us having to
pay to send them back. our for fathers did and made this country what it is today
with out any hand outs.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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