“Senator Pearce and his colleagues are to be commended,” said Bachmann, a U.S. representative from Minnesota, referring to Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa. “They have had to pick up where the federal government has left off; they have to secure the safety and economic security of the people they represent.”
Bachmann met behind closed doors at the State Capitol with Pearce and several other GOP lawmakers, as well as U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and Cochise County Sheriff Larry A. Dever.
At a news conference afterward, she declined to say what the group discussed but thanked Pearce for leading the charge for SB 1070, which, among other provisions, requires local police to check the immigration status of suspects. With the law’s strictest provisions blocked in federal court, Gov. Jan Brewer has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“I don’t dis’ this law; I thank this law,” Bachmann said.
She also applauded a law authorizing the state to raise money and use inmate labor to construct fencing along the border but said it’s really the federal government’s responsibility.
“The failure of the federal government to secure that border has put undue pressure on the state’s and local budgets,” Bachmann said.
Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, the law’s author, was among those who met with Bachmann and introduced her as a leader in the fight against illegal immigration. He and other supporters are in the process of raising private donations for the project.
“You need the political horsepower for the president to actually stand up and say, ‘It’s my job,’ and allocate the funds,” he said. “Otherwise Arizona gets to work at it.”
Senate Minority Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, who didn’t attend the session, said that while he agrees the federal government should do more he doesn’t consider Bachmann a leader on the issue.
“She as a member of Congress has not been a part of solving this problem,” he said.
Rachel Jimenez is a reporter for Cronkite News Service.