This Sunday, Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) appeared on Univision’s Al Punto with Jorge Ramos to talk about immigration and Arizona’s new immigration law, SB-1070. In the interview, Brewer insisted she was not a racist and proclaimed that she loves Latinos. “I love them from the bottom of my heart,” Brewer told Ramos:
RAMOS: I remember having an interview with him [Arpaio] and he told me that some people call him racist. Are you concerned that some people might think the same thing of you?
BREWER: Not only am I concerned, it’s really disappointing to me. I’ve lived in the southwest my whole life. I’ve got many friends, of many cultures and certainly a great deal of them are Hispanics, and I love them from the bottom of my heart. I love everybody Jorge, from the bottom of my heart.
RAMOS: Do you feel rejected by the Hispanic community?
BREWER: I feel that I’m somewhat hurt that they would think that I would be a racist, you know. And I was… and a bigot and that I would stand by and allow any kind of racial profiling or anything like that to take place.
Watch it [in Spanish]:
However, Brewer stood by many of the comments that have most offended the Latino community.
Brewer downplayed her controversial and erroneous claim that illegal immigration has led to beheadings in the Arizona desert. “Well I think that was a misunderstanding,” said Brewer, suggesting that the public misunderstood what she meant by “border region.” (Brewer’s actual statement was: “We cannot afford all this illegal immigration and everything that comes with it, everything from the crime and to the drugs and the kidnappings and the extortion and the beheadings and the fact that people can’t feel safe in their community.”)
When Ramos challenged Brewer on her statements that most undocumented immigrants are drug mules, Brewer defended her remarks. “Well, if you know; if you are coming across with the drug cartels, and you’re hauling drugs, then you are,” said Brewer. “We can’t assimilate it,” Brewer told Ramos in reference to the number of undocumented immigrants coming to the U.S. “Those people that are coming across are now under the control of the drug cartels,” she affirmed.
Brewer denied that SB-1070 will lead to racial profiling simply because racial profiling is illegal. Racial profiling “is illegal in Arizona,” Brewer reasoned, so therefore “Senate Bill 1070 didn’t have anything to do with that.” Nonetheless, Brewer has “no idea” what to do about the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and has “not a clue of what an undocumented, anybody looks like.” Brewer additionally affirmed that she believes that “illegal immigration doesn’t have anything to do with human rights.”
Meanwhile, the largest Latino civil rights group, National Council of La Raza, holds, “SB 1070 would make Latinos in Arizona suspects in their own communities—even though the vast majority of them are native-born U.S. citizens and legal residents.” Even Arizona Hispanic Republicans slammed SB-1070, stating “SB 1070 is a direct slap in the face to Hispanic Americans who have fought and died for several American wars because this new law can be abused by authorities to pull us over with mere ‘reasonable suspicion.'”
As a champion of Arizona’s immigration law, Brewer’s popularity has soared. However, her support of the law probably won’t win her too many Latino votes: 84 percent of Latinos think that SB-1070 will result in police in Arizona stopping and questioning legal Latino immigrants or U.S. citizens and 81 percent percent of Arizona Latino registered voters oppose the bill. Approximately 80 percent of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are from Latin America.