WASHINGTON -- The day before the Supreme Court hears arguments on Arizona's harsh immigration law this spring, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to come to Washington to explain why the law is necessary and constitutional.
The state law, SB 1070, has been at least partially blocked by lower federal courts, which found it trespasses on the authority of the federal government. Brewer (R) and her allies have been highly critical of President Barack Obama for even challenging Arizona's efforts. The high court is set to hear arguments in Arizona v. United States on April 25.
If the law survives, it would require immigrants in Arizona to present their papers to law enforcement officers who stop them for any reason -- which critics slam as thinly disguised racial profiling.
Writing to Brewer on Thursday, Schumer, who sponsored a law in 2010 to dramatically strengthen border patrols, said she should come to Washington a day early to enlighten federal lawmakers on her concerns.
"As you frequently ask the President to visit the southern border to discuss border security, we expect that you will be eager to engage in a productive dialogue with the Congressional Committee responsible for acting upon any border security recommendations you provide," wrote Schumer, who is calling the hearing as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's immigration subcommittee.
In his message to the governor, the New Yorker argued that federal efforts are already having a powerful effect, noting that the Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act directed $600 million to boost electronic surveillance and other law enforcement all along the Southwestern border. Schumer wrote that more than 1,000 new agents have been added, boosting the border force to 21,300, up from 10,000 in 2004, while the flow of undocumented immigrants has slowed dramatically, with nationwide apprehensions down from nearly 724,000 in 2008 to about 340,000 last year.
At the same time, seizures of cash, drugs and guns along the Southwestern border have skyrocketed, with 74 percent more cash, 41 percent more drugs and 159 percent more weapons grabbed by law enforcers since the border law was passed,
"Given the new level of security at our Southern Border as result of the August 2010 law, it would be extremely beneficial for the Committee to hear from you with regard to: 1) why you signed SB 1070 in 2010; 2) whether you still believe SB 1070 is necessary in light of the substantially increased security situation along our southern border; and 3) whether you favor SB 1070 being made a permanent law irrespective of whether conditions further improve along the southern border," Schumer wrote.
"We would also appreciate any other insight you can provide regarding the legality and prudence of enacting state immigration laws," he wrote.
A spokesman for Brewer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.