Obama, Ariz. governor still at odds on immigration after meeting 

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer pressed President Obama in a private meeting to step up border security efforts, saying later that "we agreed to try and work together."

Brewer, a Republican, signed the recent immigration law in Arizona that Obama has called discriminatory. Although both sides described the meeting as cordial, the rhetorical aftermath contained a frosty subtext.

"I believe that we are protecting the people of Arizona," Brewer told reporters.

The two sides emerged with nothing specific to show from the meeting and still with strong differences over how best to confront illegal immigration.

"There are viewpoints that she has clearly and were expressed in her signature on a law about how we deal with immigration," said press secretary Robert Gibbs. "She's got a point of view that you have to do border security first, [and] the president has a view that we have to have comprehensive immigration reform."

The governor requested the meeting after taking offense at a joke Obama made at the recent White House Correspondents Association dinner about his former rival, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

"Recently he claimed that he had never identified himself as a maverick," Obama said last month. "And we all know what happens in Arizona when you don't have ID: Adios, amigos."

The line earned the president big laughs, but Brewer responded by calling illegal immigration "not a laughing matter."

"No one in Arizona is laughing," Brewer said. "Do your job and secure the border."

The state law requires police to determine the immigration status of anyone they detain on other charges and requires immigrants to carry paperwork proving their legal residence.

The administration's distaste for the law has extended to the Justice Department, where the law is being monitored for possible civil rights violations. Brewer told CNN she would see Obama in court, if it comes to that.

"I know that he wants a comprehensive immigration reform plan" Brewer said. "I did not agree to that. I said secure our borders."

Brewer said she also raised the issue of border fence construction with Obama. The president has shown limited enthusiasm for a law enforcement-based immigration strategy, although Obama recently dispatched 1,200 National Guard troops to the border.

The administration has sent a mixed message this year on immigration reform. Obama at first said he wanted to do it, then backed off and said Congress lacked the political will in an election year.

More recently he has been saying he wants to start the process this year, but can't pass a bill without support from some Republicans.

"I have confidence that I can get the majority of Democrats, both in the House and the Senate" to support a bill, Obama said recently. "But I don't have 60 votes in the Senate. I've got to have some support from Republicans."

Republicans have resisted a debate on immigration reform in an election year, calling it a ploy by Obama to appeal to Hispanic voters.


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