Sparring at hearing on immigration seen as 'political theater'

April 24, 2012

Supporters and opponents of Arizona's anti-illegal immigration law battled at a congressional hearing this morning. The Arizona law makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. The hearing comes the day before the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments about the Arizona law known as SB 1070. Al Macias reports.

Senate Subcommittee Hearing Former state Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, testifies about his bill, Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law, before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on Tuesday as Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, listens. (Photo by Dustin Volz - Cronkite News Service)

AL MACIAS: The hearing was held before a Senate subcommittee chaired by New York Senator Chuck Schumer. He has been a longtime advocate for immigration reform. He had invited Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to testify but she declined. Instead, former Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce volunteered to defend the law that he sponsored in 2010. Pearce cited polls that he says show overwhelming public support for SB 1070.

RUSSELL PEARCE: Simply put, SB 1070 has clearly worked and Arizona has acted within its authority. The Supreme Court has held that states can use their inherent police powers to enforce immigration laws.

MACIAS: But Pearce's claims were challenged by Todd Landfried of Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform.

TODD LANDFRIED: If these laws are so good, why are the impacts so bad? The answer is you have bad outcomes because you had bad input. Put bluntly, we are being misled by proponents who routinely distort data.

MACIAS: Nine of the 11 senators on the subcommittee did not attend the hearing.

Senator Schumer pointed to the absence of any Republican senators at the hearing, highlighting the political battle that's led to the stalemate.

CHUCK SCHUMER: We don't have anyone sitting down and saying 'here's what we want to do to solve this immigration problem.'

MACIAS: Arizona Senator Jon Kyl is on the subcommittee, he did not attend. He issued a statement saying the hearing was political theatre. 

Updated 4/25/2012 at 8:55 a.m.

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