Rove downplayed criticism that the law will encourage racial profiling and civil liberty violations, expressing his optimistic sense of faith in the nation’s “modern police forces.” Nonetheless, he said he foresees “constitutional problems with the bill” and stated that he “wished they hadn’t passed it”:
Rove, speaking to a crowd of about 500 at the mammoth senior community as part of a national book tour, said that while the law is understandable, it does present difficulties. The law has become the nation’s toughest anti-immigration measure. “I think there is going to be some constitutional problems with the bill,” he said to the standing-room-only crowd at the Colony Cottage Recreation Center. “I wished they hadn’t passed it, in a way.”
Still, Rove, who was promoting his book Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight, objected to comments by critics including President Barack Obama that the law will lead to problems such as racial profiling by police. “These are modern police forces that respect the rights of people in their communities,” Rove said. “They’re going to do it on the basis of reasonable suspicion that these people are here illegally, like they’re driving a car with a Mexican license plate or they can’t speak English or they don’t have a drivers license.”
Rove suggested that there are “better tools” to tackle the immigration issue. In the past, Rove has stated that one tool could involve passing immigration reform. He has stated that one of his biggest regrets was not leading Bush’s second term with immigration reform. “If we had led with immigration reform at the beginning of the second term we could have had bipartisan cooperation with a Republican majority in the House and the Senate and done something important for the country,” said Rove.
Unfortunately, immigration reform ended up being one of the Bush administration’s final agenda items. At that point, Bush had little political capital to expend on it and the effort failed in the summer of 2007. In its aftermath, the Bush administration ramped up immigration raids and continued to expand the Department of Homeland Security’s 287(g) program which allows local police to enforce immigration laws — as all Arizona law enforcement officers will soon be required to do. The ACLU has written that the 287(g) program “created a climate of racial profiling and community insecurity,” which, contrary to Rove’s claims, the group predicts the Arizona law will do as well.