Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer abruptly suspends state's attorney general from illegal immigrant law defense
A sudden new twist in the ongoing rhetorical and legal struggle over Arizona's tough new law to round up illegal immigrants.
Late Friday night as the Memorial Day weekend began, Arizona's Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, in effect, suspended the state's Democratic attorney general from defending the new law in upcoming legal challenges. The measure, known as S.B. 1070, is due to take effect this summer and, among other things, allows local police under federal guidelines to check the immigration status of people they stop. (For a full list of background stories, see Related Items below.)
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The governor's abrupt action against Terry Goddard, her likely Democratic opponent in this fall's gubernatorial election, came after months of disputes between the two and at the end of a long day of legal maneuvering in both Arizona and the nation's capital.
As the state's chief lawyer, Goddard would be expected to take the lead in defending Arizona against....
...challenges to the Legislature's action, which erupted after years of state frustration with the federal government's inability to secure the state border with Mexico against illegal immigrants, drugs and criminals.
However, Goddard has vocally opposed the measure, so much so that the Legislature gave the governor advance authority to hire outside legal counsel.
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On Friday, Goddard met with the Obama administration's Atty. Gen. Eric Holder in Washington, then held a news conference just hours before Brewer's handpicked attorneys were to meet with Holder, an outspoken critic of the law.
Brewer said, "I believe the federal government should use its legal resources to fight illegal immigration, not the State of Arizona."
Seeing apparent collusion between the two Democrat lawyers, Brewer pulled the plug Friday night.
Her statement (full text below) said:
Due to Attorney General Goddard’s curious coordination with the U.S. Department of Justice today and his consistent opposition to Arizona’s new immigration laws, I will direct my legal team to defend me and the State of Arizona rather than the Attorney General in the lawsuits challenging Arizona’s immigration laws.
Despite widespread criticism in the media and the Obama administration, whose officials including Holder admitted they had not actually read the legislation, numerous polls have shown deep support for the measure nationally and within Arizona.
And that approval has transferred over to Brewer, who was trailing Goddard early this year in polls of a hypothetical matchup come Nov. 2. Brewer inherited the governor's office last year when Janet Napolitano resigned to accept the man-caused nomination of Homeland Security secretary from President Obama.
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See for yourself: Complete text of the Arizona law and executive order