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Jan Brewer says US policy muddies waters for Arizona law

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), responds to President Obama's immigration speech, Friday, June 15, 2012, at the Capitol in Phoenix. Brewer said President Barack Obama represents a "pre-emptive strike" aimed at an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling that could uphold parts of the state's immigration enforcement law. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX - Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer says President Barack Obama represents a ``pre-emptive strike'' aimed at an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling that could uphold parts of the state's immigration enforcement law.

Obama's new policy will give some illegal immigrants a chance to remain in the United States and work if they were brought into the U.S. as children.

"Should they be deported," said Brewer. "I believe in the rule of law. I've said this all along. I understand that this whole situation is so far more complicated."

Brewer reacted Friday to Obama's announcement of a new policy allowing some younger illegal immigrants to remain in the United States.

"Now is not the time to grant amnesty to nearly one million people," said Brewer. "Now is not the time to approve something via executive fiat that the president knows he could never get through Congress."

Brewer said the change muddies the waters for implementing the Arizona immigration enforcement law because people covered by the new federal policy can get new documentation.

The Supreme Court could rule as early as Monday on the Arizona law, which was enacted two years ago. Lower courts blocked implementation of key parts, including a requirement that police ask about a person's immigration status if an officer reasonably suspects the person is in the country illegally.

``It's a pre-emptive strike against Senate Bill 1070. The timing is unbelievable,'' Brewer said.

Brewer also said Obama may have ulterior motives for pushing the new policy.

"This delivery of this this message today was pandering to a certain population and, I believe, it was very, very political," she said.

Brewer said that an issue like this should go through Congress.

"Lo and behold today, he's able to do it, so go figure," she said.

The Republican governor also said the change means that hundreds of thousands of people will be eligible for work permits and compete with Americans and legal immigrants for jobs.

"They're going to be competing [for] jobs with people that have come here legally," said Brewer.

Brewer, who recently ordered police regulators to re-issue training material on implementing the Arizona law, said state officials will study the implications of Obama's move.

``The crux of Senate Bill 1070, of course, is documentation, and what he has done by his announcement today is he's going to give documentation to nearly a million people that have arrived in our country illegally and not by the rule of law.''

Both Brewer and Former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, the chief sponsor of the Arizona law and now president of the Ban Amnesty Now group, characterized the change as a ``backdoor amnesty.''

``The effect is just the destruction of the rule of law,'' said Pearce, who was upset by Obama's announcement. ``It's a slap in the face to those who come here legally. It's a slap in the face to the rule of law.''

The change marks an unconstitutional end run around Congress and rewards people for breaking the law, Pearce said.

Pearce said he has sympathy for illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as very young children but believes that's not the issue at hand here. ``We have laws in this land,'' he said.

Several Democratic legislators hailed Obama's announcement.

``This is a sensible policy. We should support the young people in our state who are doing the right things and contributing to the betterment of our communities,'' said House Minority Whip Anna Tovar, D-Tolleson.

Senate Minority Leader David Schapira, D-Phoenix, said the policy change was welcome. However, ``comprehensive immigration reform is still needed,'' Schapira added. ``This is a positive step forward while Congress continues to ignore the problem.''

KTAR's Jim Cross and Associated Press writer Jacques Billeaud contributed to this report.


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