Axelrod: ‘No Administration Has Been Tougher’ on Immigration Enforcement than Obama Administration

By Nicholas Ballasy | July 13, 2010 | 6:22 PM EDT

In this June 15, 2010 file photo, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer speaks in Phoenix. With the scrawl of a pen, Brewer awakened a dormant - but politically explosive - issue of illegal immigration, sending shock waves across the political spectrum in an election year when both parties had hoped to sidestep the topic. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

( - When making the case for the Obama administration’s legal challenge to Arizona’s new law against illegal immigration, White House senior adviser David Axelrod said “no administration has been tougher” on immigration enforcement than the Obama administration.
“We can't have - we can't have a patchwork of 50 states developing their own immigration policy,” Axelrod told host Chris Wallace on the July 11 edition of “Fox News Sunday.” “I understand the frustration of people in Arizona. They want the federal government to step up and deal with this problem once and for all, and that's what we want to do.”

“But no administration has been tougher on enforcement,” said Axelrod. “No administration has gone after employers the way we have, who have broken the law by hiring these workers.”
The U.S. Justice Department says the Obama administration is seeking an injunction to stop Arizona’s new law, S.B. 1070, from being implemented on July 29. A Gallup poll released on July 9 showed that 50 percent of Americans oppose the lawsuit while 33 percent favor it, and 17 percent have no opinion on the issue.
“The administration also went to court this week to sue the state of Arizona over its crackdown on illegal immigrants,” Wallace said to Axelrod.
“But let's take a look at the situation on the ground. There are an estimated 500,000 illegals in Arizona. Phoenix is now called the ‘kidnapping capital of the U.S., with a surge of abductions tied to drugs and human smuggling. And the president is telling the state, ‘You can't defend your own borders?’” Wallace added.
Axelrod responded, “Well, first of all, Chris, let me just say that the – there was a report in the Arizona Republic that challenged some – the situation is not – it's not good. And obviously, there's great frustration there, as there should be.”
Axelrod continued, “But we have greatly increased the presence of manpower, of equipment, of technology along the border. We have concentrated on the criminal elements there. One of our concerns about this, about this law, is that it will divert our efforts to go after criminals and people who are, who are inflicting harm on the community in the ways you suggest. So that's the issue here.”
Wallace acknowledged that the president had sent an extra 1,200 National Guard troops to the border but noted that this was less than one extra troop per mile along the Arizona-Mexico border.
“That’s double than what’s been there since 2004,” Axelrod said.