Huffpost Politics

New Mexico Hosting Border Conference Arizona Canceled

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SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico will host a meeting of U.S. and Mexican border governors, providing a new venue for a conference that was scrapped in Arizona because of a dispute over its new immigration enforcement law.

However, the governors of Arizona and Texas will not attend the rescheduled meeting.

The meeting will be held in Santa Fe in late September, according to Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesman for Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson.

The governors of six Mexican states are expected to attend, he said Thursday.

"Obviously, all border governors are welcome and encouraged to attend, although the governors of Arizona and Texas have said they are not interested in joining a dialogue with their border colleagues," Gallegos said in a statement.

Richardson's announcement of the border governors' meeting came as a federal judge in Phoenix considered a lawsuit against the Arizona law, which takes effect July 29 unless blocked by a court.

The law requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person's immigration status if officers have a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, called off the meeting in Phoenix after the Mexican governors planned to boycott it because of Arizona's new immigration law.

The Mexican governors said in a June letter that Arizona's law violated civil rights and they suggested moving the conference to another state.

Annual meetings are held by the governors of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California along with leaders of six Mexican states – Coahuila, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, Sonora, Tamaulipas and Baja California. The governors typically approve resolutions on issues ranging from pollution and water to international trade and border violence.

Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman said the Arizona governor had no plans to attend the meeting in Santa Fe, "but would certainly welcome the Mexican and U.S. governors to attend the actual Border Governors Conference in Arizona as they had all previously committed."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, also won't attend the meeting in New Mexico.

"It was Arizona's turn to host this and he respected their decision to cancel it. He still intends to have a working relationship with all of the border governors," said Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will attend. "It's a productive conference and he's looking forward to it," said Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear.

The agenda and other details of the Santa Fe meeting are not complete, according to Gallegos.

Tijuana will host a preliminary meeting of gubernatorial aides from both sides of the border to draw up an agenda for the New Mexico conference, said Juan Tintos, a spokesman for Baja California Gov. Jose Guadalupe Osuna Millan.

"There are many issues of shared concern, and the progress made at these conferences has been good. Gov. Osuna wants that progress to continue," Tintos said in Spanish.

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Associated Press Writers Elliot Spagat in Tijuana, Mexico; Jay Root in Austin; Robin Hindery in Sacramento and Jonathan Cooper in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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