Arizona Governor Vows to Fight Any Federal Lawsuit Over Immigration Law
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer expressed outrage Thursday over Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's comments that the Obama administration will sue over Arizona's controversial immigration law -- and Brewer said she's ready for a fight.
Clinton said in an interview with a TV station in Ecuador that the Obama administration "will be bringing" suit against Arizona for its immigration law, though the Justice Department for weeks has said that the issue is still under review.
"What a disappointment," Brewer told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren on Thursday, saying she was shocked the administration would make such an announcement on foreign TV without giving Arizona officials the news first. Her office hadn't heard from the administration as of Thursday evening.
"We are not going to back away from this issue," Brewer said. "We are going to pursue it, we're going to be very aggressive," Brewer said. "We'll meet them in court ... And we will win."
She added: "The population of America agrees with Arizona."
In a clip of the interview posted on a conservative blog, Clinton was asked how the Obama administration was handling the debate over the law.
"President Obama has spoken out against the law because he thinks that the federal government should be determining immigration policy. And the Justice Department, under his direction, will be bringing a lawsuit against the act," the secretary of state responded, before calling for comprehensive immigration reform.
President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have both criticized the Arizona law, but the administration has maintained that its attorneys are reviewing the legislation to determine the next step.
Clinton was in Latin America last week for the general assembly of the Organization of American States in Peru.
Despite the release of the interview, a Justice spokesman said Thursday that the department "continues to review the law."
Another Justice official could not confirm whether the White House directed the department to sue, but said the White House would be within its rights to do so.
"It would not be inappropriate for the White House to tell us to sue. It's not a criminal matter," the official said.
On April 23, Brewer, a Republican, signed what is considered the toughest legislation in the nation targeting illegal immigrants. It is set to go into effect July 29 pending multiple legal challenges and the Justice Department's review.
The law requires police investigating another incident or crime to ask people about their immigration status if there's a "reasonable suspicion" they're in the country illegally. It also makes being in Arizona illegally a misdemeanor, and it prohibits seeking day-labor work along the state's streets.
The law's stated intention is to drive illegal immigrants out of Arizona and discourage them from coming in the first place. It has outraged civil rights groups, drawn criticism from Obama and led to marches and protests organized by people on both sides of the issue.
The law's backers say Congress isn't doing anything meaningful about illegal immigration, so it's the state's duty to address the issue.
A State Department spokesman said the department would defer to the Justice Department "on what legal steps are available."
"The president and Secretary (Clinton) have said clearly that the administration opposes the Arizona law," spokesman Andy Laine said. "A number of leaders in the region have raised the issue with the United States. It came up during her recent trip to South America. As the secretary said, a better solution is comprehensive immigration reform."
Fox News' Mike Levine and the Associated Press contributed to this report.