Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer defended that state's tough immigration law Saturday, saying she thinks it is preferable to the course that Utah took and insisting the state has not suffered an economic backlash from its passage.
"I am very, very supportive and believe Senate Bill 1070 is the right way to go and believe eventually it will be held up as the law," Brewer said.
Fearing the fallout that Arizona suffered after passing its tough immigration bill, Utah lawmakers opted for a less stringent enforcement bill and included a first-of-its-kind state-based guest-worker bill.
Brewer said she supports guest-worker laws, but they shouldn't apply as Utah's does to immigrants who have entered the country illegally.
"We have laws," she said. "I think we're a nation of laws, and crossing the border is illegal."
The Arizona governor said that, contrary to popular belief, she doesn't believe Arizona's economy has been damaged by the passage of its controversial immigration law.
"I don't believe that's true," she said. "We just got our revenue estimates from our tourism bureau and it's up, better than ever."
She said polls have shown that 70 percent of people support what Arizona was doing and wanted to show their support with their pocketbooks.
Brewer's comments came after a hearing during the National Governors Association conference in Salt Lake City, where she once again demanded stronger border security, saying violence along the border remains at unacceptable levels.
David Aguillar, deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, said that the flow of immigrants across the border has fallen sharply, but will never drop to zero as long as people believe they can get jobs or there is a demand for narcotics.
Aguillar said that border apprehensions in Arizona have fallen sharply and are projected to finish the year at between 106,000 and 119,000 individuals, down from the highest level of 630,000 apprehensions in 2000.
"It doesn't mean it's under control," Brewer insisted. "We are feeling the pain. I think anybody who has read the newspaper or watched the news, they realize that."
She pointed to the December slaying of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry as a sign that the situation remains untenable.
"We unfortunately are the recipient of a very porous border that brings violence to our state," she said.