WASHINGTON – Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer will meet with President Barack Obama on Thursday, a White House aide confirmed amid mounting ire over the state's immigration law that critics say encourages ethnic profiling.
A defiant Brewer told CNN Tuesday night that her state will fight any federal attempts to overturn the law. She also cited several major polls that have showed national support for the immigration law running as high as two-thirds of registered voters surveyed. A majority in several polls said they want a similar law in their own states.
"We'll meet you in court," she said Tuesday, addressing the Obama administration. "I have a pretty good record of winning in court."
The White House confirmed the meeting following criticism over reports that Obama would not be able to meet with her while she is in Washington this week, according to Fox News.
Brewer had requested a face-to-face meeting with Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the former Arizona governor, as tensions rose between his administration and the Grand Canyon State over its controversial law.
The White House denies that Obama snubbed Brewer, saying there initially were some scheduling issues this week that have been resolved.
"This administration has dedicated unprecedented resources over the past 16 months to fulfill the federal government's responsibility to secure the southwest border," the White House official said in confirming the talks between Obama and Brewer.
Meanwhile, California's Los Angeles County voted Tuesday to join the city of Los Angeles in an economic boycott of Arizona.
"This law simply goes too far," said Gloria Molina, the boycott's main sponsor.
"A lot of people have pointed out that I am sworn as an L.A. County supervisor to uphold the (US) Constitution. All I can say is that I believe that Arizona's law is unconstitutional."
Brewer signed a controversial law in April that makes it a crime in Arizona to lack proper immigration papers. It requires local police, who are not federal agents responsible for immigration matters, to determine whether people are in the United States illegally.
"I think we need to sit down and we need to talk about it... The fact of the matter is that 80 percent of the American people agree with me," Brewer told CNN.
"I think it's important that the president and I sit down and discuss why it is important and explain to him exactly what it is that Arizona is feeling and the impact that it is having on our great state and not only on the great state of Arizona but certainly on America."
Brewer said "the people of Arizona are discouraged. They're fed up. We've had security flaws on the border for years now. And it's time that we do something about it immediately."
But she insisted the law was not about singling out people of any particular ethnicity.
"It wouldn't matter whether you were Latino or Hispanic or Norwegian" if police asked for documentation, she said. "If you didn't have proof of citizenship and if the police officer had reasonable suspicion, he would ask and verify your citizenship. I mean, that's the way that it is. That's what the (US) federal law says. And that's what the law in Arizona says."
The law, which takes effect on July 29, has raised the hackles of civil rights groups on both sides of the US-Mexican border, who say it will open the door to ethnic profiling.
The Arizona law has drawn protests from Mexican President Felipe Calderon that resonated throughout Latin America, home to the vast majority of the estimated 10.8 million immigrants in the United States illegally.
Mexico, which borders Arizona, is the origin of the largest single group of illegal immigrants in the United States.
The US Justice Department has sent officials to Arizona for consultations on controversial aspects of the law, official sources say.
Obama has said he wants to work on comprehensive immigration reform, something that has failed in Congress twice in recent years, in 2006 and 2007.
© AFP 2013