White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod on Sunday defended the administration's lawsuit against Arizona's immigration law, saying state laws such as the controversial one in the border state "dilute" federal efforts to secure the border.
"One of our concerns about this law is it will divert our effort to go after criminals," Axelrod said on "Fox News Sunday."
Axelrod defended the federal government's efforts on illegal immigration. "No administration has been tougher on enforcement, no administration has gone after the employers the way we have," he said.
Host Chris Wallace asked Axelrod why the spending on the construction of a border fence has been frozen and border enforcement spending has been cut in the next budget.
"We're producing better results that have ever been produced before," Axelrod said, adding that this administration has put a "much greater focus on smuggling and drugs and guns."
"We can't do that if there's a patchwork... that dilutes those efforts."
Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl (R) said on Fox "there have been improvements... but it's not enough," noting that half a million illegal immigrants still cross the border each year.
"It'd be one thing if the federal government had controlled the border already but it hasn't," Kyl said.
The senator said he supported a temporary guest worker program as necessary in comprehensive immigration reform, but lamented that labor unions no longer supported such as provision. However, "you can gain operational control of the border even without such a plan," Kyl said.
On CNN's "State of the Union," Axelrod called on Congress to move on immigration reform, lamenting the lack of progress since Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) "came up with a good blueprint."
"This problem been kicked down the road for a long time," he said. "We understand that it's a stubborn problem. It's a hard thing to solve in the midst of a campaign because it lends itself to demagoguery."
"...We are calling on those folks on the other side of the aisle, who said in the past that they thought this was an important issue to solve, to join us. And when they are willing, then we will be able to move forward."
Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) said on ABC's "This Week" that Republicans would pass two Democratic bills on which they agree: "The Heath Shuler bill, where you have 230 people support it, Republicans and Democrats. Then you have Silvestre Reyes' bill, which has Republican -- we could pass that tomorrow if Speaker Pelosi allowed it to be done. First you do is stop paying them to be here. Then what you do is you give enforcement the chance. You have not had interior enforcement."
"...Once you send the message that we're going to reward and create a special status for those who are illegally here, you will not be able to build a fence tall enough," Bilbray said.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), also on ABC, said Bilbray "thinks this is kind of like Fantasy Island, right, where 12 million people are just going to disappear like a mirage."
"...They will not leave," said Gutierrez, chairman of the Democratic Caucus Immigration Task Force. "There are 12 million. Listen to that 7-year-old girl who asked the first lady."
This story was updated at 11 a.m.