Governor's book gets scrutiny in immigration suit
Nov. 24, 2014
PHOENIX (AP) — A book by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer that provides behind-the-scenes details of her handling of the state's 2010 landmark immigration law is facing scrutiny in a legal challenge of the contentious statute.
Lawyers seeking to overturn surviving parts of the law have subpoenaed all documents used by the governor in writing the 2011 book that included her administration's attempts to avoid being branded racists over the crackdown on illegal immigration.
The most contentious section of the law, SB1070, required that police, while enforcing other laws, question people's immigration status if they are suspected of being in the country illegally.
The 2010 law elevated Brewer, who signed the measure into law and became its chief defender, to the national political stage. Her book is called "Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America's Border."
Justin Cox, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney who is part of the team challenging the law, said the content of the Brewer documents is unknown but might provide insight into the passage of the law.
"What was she told, what role did her office have, and what was her understanding of what SB1070 would do?" Cox asked.
Brewer spokesman Andrew Wilder declined to comment on the subpoena.
The subpoena is one of several issued by the law's challengers as they sought letters, emails and memos between lawmakers and advocates for tougher immigration enforcement to see why proponents of the law believed it needed to be passed.
The lawyers also are seeking documents to back up their claim that the law was passed with discriminatory intent.
Former state Sen. Russell Pearce, the Legislature's chief advocate for the law, was ordered in September to comply with a subpoena to turn over his emails and documents about the law.
Cox said the subpoena for Brewer's book-related documents was issued after she declined to provide them through a records request.
Cox said Brewer's lawyers made the meritless argument that she was part of the lawsuit only in her official capacity and that the records in question were kept solely in her personal capacity.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law's contentious requirement that police, while enforcing other laws, must question people's immigration status if they are suspected of being in the country illegally.
But the courts threw out several other sections, including a requirement that immigrants carry registration papers and a ban on immigrants soliciting work in a public place.
Much of Brewer's book is devoted to defending the law. She said her administration was aware early on that the state would face an outcry and allegations of racism in response to the law's passage and responded by making what they thought were important changes to minimize those concerns.
Brewer wrote that Arizona's illegal immigration crisis had been intensifying as the state became an attractive gateway for drug and immigrant smuggling.
Brewer said momentum for an additional state response grew when an Arizona rancher was fatally shot about 20 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border in March 2010, when SB1070 was working its way through the Legislature.