Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) said Sunday she supports a border security amendment to the comprehensive immigration reform bill being considered by Congress, a significant move from a governor who passed one of the harshest anti-unauthorized immigration bills in the nation.
"I think that what we’re seeing taking place in the Senate is a victory for Arizona," she said on Fox News. "I'm glad that they finally decided to talk about the 'border surge' that we've called out for since 2010, asking them to take control of our border, operational control."
Brewer's comments come as the Senate prepares to vote on an amendment designed to draw in additional Republicans. The amendment, co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.), would send additional funding and agents to the U.S.-Mexico border, along with a 700-mile fence, measures Brewer has long demanded.
"What they're getting ready to debate on Monday ... is a step in the right direction and it's about time," Brewer said.
The "gang of eight" -- a group made up of four Democrats and four Republicans -- has only two members who come from the same state: Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona.
The bill also would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, which the sponsors have argued is not amnesty because of the long wait time, fines and border and enforcement improvements required before immigrants could gain legal permanent residency.
Brewer said "the first step" should be resources on the border, before legalization can move forward.
Her support for the amendment is particularly notable, because Brewer signed SB 1070, a controversial 2010 law meant to drive undocumented immigrants out of the state. She has said Arizona needed to pass such a bill because the federal government refuses to act to police illegal immigration and secure the border.
UPDATE: 2:55 p.m. -- Brewer wrote on Twitter later Monday that she was endorsing the border security increases in the amendment from Corker and Hoeven, not the entire gang of eight bill.
For the record, I have not endorsed the Gang of 8 #immigration bill.— Jan Brewer (@GovBrewer) June 24, 2013
I am supportive of the border surge element of the Corker amendment. Border security MUST come first as part of any bill. #immigration— Jan Brewer (@GovBrewer) June 24, 2013
I am confident House Republicans will improve this bill and make it workable for the American people. #immigration— Jan Brewer (@GovBrewer) June 24, 2013
This post has been updated to reflect Brewer's clarification around her endorsement.
He's been quiet since the election, but it's clear the <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2012/11/10/rubio-immigration-presidential-run/1695791/">GOP is looking to their top Latino star</a> to deliver more votes next presidential election. Rubio is the obvious choice to make the Republican Party's case to Hispanic voters, but will he <a href="http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2012/11/sorry_bill_oreilly_marco_rubio.php">remain opposed to a path to citizenship</a> for the undocumented?
The conservative Fox News commentator, once known for his criticism of anything resembling "amnesty," had this to say after last week's election: "We've gotta get rid of the immigration issue altogether. It's simple for me to fix it. I think you control the border first, you create a pathway for those people that are here, you don't say you gotta home. And that is a position that I've evolved on. Because you know what -- it just -- it's gotta be resolved. The majority of people here -- if some people have criminal records you can send' em home -- but if people are here, law-abiding, participating, for years, their kids are born here... first secure the border, pathway to citizenship... then it's done. But you can't let the problem continue. It's gotta stop."
Before the election, House Speaker John Boehner didn't think Marco Rubio's conservative alternative to the DREAM had a chance in the lower chamber. After President Obama trounced the GOP among Latino voters last week, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/09/us/politics/boehner-confident-of-deal-with-white-house-on-immigration.html">Boehner now says he's "confident"</a> Congress can work out a deal.
Texas' <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/11/19/121119fa_fact_lizza?currentPage=all">Tea Party-backed, Cuban-American U.S. Senator Ted Cruz</a> said after the elections that Republicans "If Republicans do not do better in the Hispanic community ... in a few short years Republicans will no longer be the majority in our state." But it's not clear whether Cruz is the man to lead the party there. <a href="http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2012/11/will-identity-politics-work-for-the-gop-wooing-hispanics-in-texas.html/">He only won 35 percent of the Latino vote</a> in Texas, according to a Latino Decisions survey. His vocal opposition to the DREAM Act, deferred action and immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship are precisely the kinds of policy the GOP is looking to back away from in order to woo Latino voters.
After election night, former Mississippi Gov. <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1112/83562.html?hp=l7">Haley Barbour urged his fellow conservatives</a> to change their tune on immigration reform, saying: "we need to have an immigration policy that is good economic policy, and then -- and then the politics will take care of itself." Barbour had favored Marco Rubio's outline for an alternative to the DREAM Act, even going a step farther, saying he supported a path to citizenship.
Republican Iowa Congressman Steve King remains unconvinced that losing the Latino vote means the GOP should back down on its opposition to reform. After the election he fired off this tweet, which makes some kind of association between Santa Claus and a path to citizenship. King likes to compare immigrants to dogs, which he thinks is a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/21/steve-king-immigrants-dogs_n_1998007.html?1350852519">compliment</a>.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who appears to be planning a 2014 reelection run, said in a televised interview that she's "fine and dandy" with immigration reform so long as the federal government secures the border first. It's not clear what her standard for securing the border is, or whether the governor who signed SB 1070 would support a path to citizenship.
On election night, the conservative Fox News host offered up the analysis on prime time television that "the white establishment is now the minority" and that people of color, and women, want "stuff" and "things." Insulting Latinos as freeloaders probably isn't going to warm them up to conservatism. Incidentally, it's also incorrect. Non-white voters only make up 28 percent of the electorate, <a href="http://www.pewhispanic.org/files/2012/11/2012_Latino_vote_exit_poll_analysis_final_11-09.pdf">according to Pew Hispanic Center</a>. Notwithstanding his election night comments, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/19/bill-oreilly-jose-antonio-vargas_n_1610047.html">O'Reilly broke new ground with Jose Antonio Vargas</a> in June, when the conservative Fox News host said he favored offering a path to citizenship for immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.