Gov. Brewer on new Senate immigration proposal

New questions over border security amid immigration reform


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 1, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JENNA LEE, GUEST HOST: Well, it's the big story this week.

Bipartisan immigration reform remains in the works. But despite assurances that any deal will include securing our border, my next guest is wondering who will be making that call, and she knows the border pretty well.

Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is with us now.

So, Governor, we hear that maybe a special committee might be created that would involve border state governors to talk and give suggestions about border security. Have you been invited to any such meeting or any such committee?

GOV. JAN BREWER, R - AZ: No, not up unto this point, but certainly, Jenna, I agree.

I think that people that are living on the border states ought to have a voice in the decision of whether that border is secure or not. So I was very hopeful when it was presented in that likeness in the Senate bill that we have all heard a little bit about, so I thought it was very, very encouraging.


LEE: If you get the invitation, you'll let us know, especially if it happens during this segment.


LEE: But let's talk a little bit about border security in general, because that's a big question mark. How do you know if the border's secure?

And I was curious, how would you quantify or qualify a secure border? What would go into actually measuring that and saying border security this year in the United States is an A-plus vs. a D-minus?

BREWER: Well, I think that we all know what a secure border is. We have seen it in California. We have seen it in Texas. In fact, we have seen it in Arizona along what we call the Yuma sector.

But the Tucson sector, which is primarily in the middle of Arizona and Mexico, we have an unsecure border. We all know that. That is the gateway. I believe that we rely on our experts, the people that know what's going on, law enforcement that is dealing with it, and the people that live there. That's what I would rely on. It's just a simple matter. We can get operational control because we have done it in other places. But, for whatever the reason is, the federal government doesn't step up and secure the Tucson sector.

LEE: Well, one of the things that we have heard -- you can go back a couple of years -- the Department of Homeland Security said, listen, 2011, the border is secure. It's never been as secure as it is now.

You really disagreed with the Department of Homeland Security at the time, so, ultimately, where do you think the power lies in determining the border is secure? Is it with the states or is it with the federal government? Who makes the call?

BREWER: Well, you know, it ought to be determined by all of us collectively together.

We need to talk to the experts. We need to talk to the people that live at the border, and certainly the elected officials that are the people that are getting contacted and dealing with it, not only on a daily basis, but, you know, we have been dealing on a daily basis for years. And we have -- and we have already agreed that, like, the Yuma sector is under operational control. California is under operational control.

They just simply seem to think that they don't want to secure that section. I mean, we're...

LEE: You have been fairly -- you have been fairly optimistic, though, over the last couple days in the interviews that you have given with having this issue back at the forefront again, having the president weigh in. Of all the things you have heard, what are you most concerned about when it comes to these plans?

BREWER: Well, I want to be sure that the border is secured before we start going down the path of issuing whatever it is that they deem important, as they deliberate and decide how they're going to address this comprehensive reform.

I think all conservative Republicans, I think all responsible Democrats want a secure border. And if we don't secure the border, then we go through this comprehensive reform, and then we gain nothing. We will be right back where we were in '86, when we were promised that the border would be secured.

LEE: Governor, it's a pleasure to have you on the program today. Again, if you get that invitation, you let us know.

BREWER: I sure will, Jenna. Thank you.

LEE: Thank you very much.

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