By Bernie Becker - 02/24/13 04:34 PM EST
Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona says the need to secure U.S. borders could be a “stumbling block” in Washington’s push to overhaul immigration laws.
Brewer, a Republican, suggested that border security needed to be a first step before moving on to other areas like a pathway to citizenship.
“We need to secure our border first, and then move forward,” Brewer said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
“I feel very, very strongly about that. I think the people, certainly, of Arizona agree with that.”
Brewer said the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona was still unsecure, and that drug cartels were exploiting that situation to come into the country.
“We are the recipients of all the crime that has taken place. Extortion. Human trafficking. The prostitution. The cost in jails. It’s a bad problem,” Brewer said.
A bipartisan Senate group has unveiled an immigration-reform framework, while a group in the House is said to be close to announcing a plan. The White House has also called the issue a top priority. The Senate blueprint would call for certifying that border security has been tightened before allowing the nation's illegal immigrants to move on a pathway to citizenship and the issue is expected to be critical to winning the support of conservative lawmakers.
Two Democratic governors appearing on “Face the Nation, ” however, disagreed on whether border security needed to be a priority before allowing undocumented immigrants to move toward citizenship.
“I think you have to do both at the same time,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland.
“It’ll be a lot easier to secure the borders, and also to provide the correct level of enforcement, if we allow hard-working people who have lived their whole lives in the United States to pay their taxes and live in the full light of society,” the Maryland governor added.
But Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado said he didn’t have as much of a problem doing border security first.
“In the end, you’ve got to really focus on the whole problem at the same time,” Hickenlooper said. “You’ve got to look at employment identification, and making sure that 20 years down the road we’re not going to get back in the same position.”