Immigration Reform: Babeu In "Complete the Danged Fence" Camp

In this week's cover story, I examined how the new border security measures worked in conjunction with putting the undocumented on a path to citizenship. I also looked at how some Republicans were continuing to push the idea that we needed more security than the bill contained, but that other Republicans wanted to see a deal in order to build better relations with the growing Latino electorate.

You can count Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, who has built his political career by cracking down on border crossers, as a member of the "crank up the security" camp, according to Emilie Eaton of Cronkite New Service:

WASHINGTON — Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu dismissed a Senate immigration reform bill Thursday, urging House members to back an alternative plan instead that focuses on law enforcement and gives more authority to local police.

Babeu, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, said the so-called “Gang of 8″ bill currently being debated in the Senate does not do enough to secure the border, which is critically important to residents of his county.

“We must secure the border first, prior to any discussion of green cards and a path to citizenship,” for the millions of people in this country illegally, he said.

But while Babeu testified that the Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement (SAFE) Act would help secure the border, other witnesses said it would open the door to racial profiling by police. The bill also mimics parts of Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law, which was partially overturned by the Supreme Court last year.

Karen Tumlin, of the National Immigration Law Center, said the high court ruled then that states cannot create their own immigration rules, and that law enforcement can only ask about a person’s legal status during lawful encounters. The SAFE Act would put too much power in the hands of local law enforcement, she said.

“There’s a difference between assisting and leading” federal authorities, Tumlin said in response to a question.