State Capitol News
8:16 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Pearce Offers to Defend AZ Immigration Laws

It looks as though members of a U-S Senate committee WILL get to hear from someone from Arizona about SB 1070. But it won't be the person they wanted.

Senator Charles Schumer(D-NY)  had invited Governor Jan Brewer to explain why she signed the measure giving state and local police more power to detain and arrest illegal immigrants. She refused, with her press aide calling it a publicity stunt. On Tuesday, Schumer tentatively accepted the offer of former state Senate President Russell Pearce to go instead. Pearce said he is not concerned that Schumer might try to score political points. And Pearce said that, as the author of SB 1070, he would make a far better witness in the structured format of congressional hearings than Brewer who only signed the bill that was sent to her.

"If they're going to have somebody there, it ought to be me," said Pearce. "Because, you know the game. I don't trust them. I know the issues. I wrote the bill, I know why it was written, I know every section of the bill. There's nobody better to explain it than me."

Schumer wants to know whether SB 1070 remains necessary now that Congress has approved $600 million to improve border security. Pearce said it does.

"Is there ever a point you won't need a law against homicide?" Pearce asks.  "No. Is there ever a time you won't need the law about trespassing or theft? No. The laws must stay in effect. And the battle will never be won without the states' participation."

Brewer and Pearce will already be in Washington for the April 24 hearing because the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the legality of the legislation the following day. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.