Obama Says Administration Taking ‘Very Close Look’ at Arizona’s Immigration Law for Civil Rights ‘Implications’
May 19, 2010 - 6:28 PMPresident Barack Obama said his administration is taking a "very close look" at Arizona's new anti-illegal immigration law, examining it for any "implications, especially for civil rights."
“I want everyone, American and Mexican, to know my administration is taking a very close look at the Arizona law,” said President Obama during a press conference on Wednesday with Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
“We're examining any implications, especially for civil rights,” said Obama. “Because in the United States of America, no law-abiding person – be they an American citizen, a legal immigrant, or a visitor or tourist from Mexico – should ever be subject to suspicion simply because of what they look like.”
Several top administration officials, who have criticized the law on television and before Congress, admitted they have not either read the law or studied it in detail.
For example, on May 17, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, former governor of Arizona, about the law during a hearing about the Gulf Coast oil spill, saying, “Have you had a chance to review the new law that was passed by the state of Arizona?”
“I have not reviewed it in detail, I certainly know of it, senator,” said Napolitano.
Napolitano also said, “That’s not the kind of law I would have signed.”
On May 13, Attorney General Eric Holder said he had not “read” the law but went on to criticize it. He told the House Judiciary Committee that he had "expressed concerns" about the Arizona law, "on the basis of what I've heard about the law" from newspaper and TV reports.
Holder has also questioned the constitutionality of the law and has said the federal government may challenge it in court.
"I've just expressed concerns on the basis of what I've heard about the law,” Holder told the House Judiciary Committee. “But I'm not in a position to say at this point, not having read the law, not having had the chance to interact with people [who] are doing the review, exactly what my position is.”
Phillip J. Crowley, assistant secretary for public affairs in the State Department, also admitted that he has not read the law.
“Have I read the law? No,” he said on May 18.
“You’re talking about the context of this law and you haven’t read it?” asked the Fox News reporter.
“I’m simply responding to a challenge that says that we at the Department of State were apologizing for America,” said Crowley. “We were actually standing up to America by saying this is how we function in a civil society. This is how we function under the rule of law.”
Crowley was defending Michael Posner, the assistant secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the State Department, for telling the Chinese Delegation during a meeting about human rights that the Arizona immigration law is an example of a “troubling trend in our society” and an indication of “discrimination or potential discrimination” in America.