Debating the fallout of the Obama administration's attempt to squelch Arizona's popular immigration law before it goes into effect later this month, CNN's Campbell Brown on July 6 challenged a chief advocate of the law with a multi-pronged assault, only to see her attacks thwarted and her "misinformation" corrected.
In a blatant contradiction, Brown dismissed State Senator Russell Pearce's (R-Ariz.) "anecdote" about ranchers who are under siege because of the federal government's failure to secure the porous border, but highlighted anecdotal evidence of opposition to the new law.
"Well, I want to stay away from the anecdotal and stick with the figures as much as we can here," instructed Brown when confronted with evidence of the Obama administration's inability to stem the tide of illegal immigration.
Later in the interview, Brown peddled the minority opinion among law enforcement groups to rebuke Pearce's assertion that courts have upheld the right of states to enforce federal law:
Law enforcement groups, some at least, have expressed concerns about whether they are going to be able to enforce this. There are two separate lawsuits as I'm sure you know in Arizona courts right now. One police officer, I believe, from Tucson suing, claiming the law will -- and I have got the right quote here -- "seriously impede law enforcement investigations and facilitate the successful commission of crimes."
"Well, those are fabrications," retorted Pearce, who went on to list myriad law enforcement agencies in Arizona that have endorsed SB-1070.
Brown also took issue with Pearce's claim that interior enforcement of federal immigration law is down 75 percent under the Obama administration, countering, "I don't think those numbers are right. But everybody who has been on this program before, on both sides of this issue, has conceded that enforcement is actually stronger along the border with more police."
After Pearce reminded Brown of the distinction between border enforcement and interior enforcement, the CNN anchor conceded the point.
Conversely, State Representative Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz), an opponent of the new law, was not raked over the coals for criticizing a law that enjoys widespread public support or for defending the White House's politically-motivated lawsuit. In fact, Brown merely touted Sinema's credentials and lobbed her a softball.
"Let me ask you, because, as I understand it, you are a constitutional lawyer," explained Brown. "And Senator McCain says that challenging a law that hasn't gone into effect is a pretty heavy lift. Does he have a point here?"
At the end of the segment, the persistent lawmaker attempted to further discredit the CNN anchor's fatuous claims, but Brown rushed to dispose of Pearce: "Well, as I said, I wish we had more time to discuss this."
"I do, too," quipped Pearce. "It's very important."
The transcript of the segment can be found below:
CAMPBELL BROWN: Arizona State Representative Kyrsten Sinema back with us tonight. She's a Democrat and a vocal critic of the new law. But also with is state Senator Russell Pearce, a Republican and one of the driving forces behind this new law. And, Senator Pearce, let met start with you. I want to read a little bit from the administration's lawsuit that says -- quote -- "A state may not establish its own immigration policy or enforce state laws in a manner that interferes with the federal immigration laws." In other words, federal law trumps state law. How can you take issue with that?
Arizona State Senator RUSSELL PEARCE (R): Well, you do take issue. First of all, enforcement is not regulatory, and the courts have ruled on this. The courts, the 5th, 6th, the 8th, the 9th, the 10th Circuit courts have all ruled. The United States Supreme Court has ruled on this, on states' inherent authority to enforce the law. If Congress had not wanted us to enforce this law, they could have used what are called plenary powers. They've never done that. And absent that, through the supremacy clause, states have an inherent authority and responsibility to enforce the law.
The misinformation out there is outrageous. The Obama administration simply is filing suit, a political lawsuit, if you will, because they have no leg to stand on, on the preemption issue. They are simply trying to enforce their current policy of no enforcement and amnesty. That's what it's about. They are not worried about profiling. This bill prohibits it. They're not worried about what lawful contact is. The Supreme Court, the United States Supreme Court, in a 9-0 landmark decision said if you have a lawful contact, you don't need reasonable suspicion. But we still put it in this bill. This is about an effort to stop any enforcement as they can usher in their amnesty program. It is a non-enforcement policy. That is the policy. Interior enforcement is down 75 percent in this administration. It's outrageous. States have inherent authority and responsibility.
BROWN: I don't think those numbers are right. I don't have the figures in front of me.
PEARCE: The numbers are right.
BROWN: But everybody who has been on this program before, on both sides of this issue, has conceded that enforcement is actually stronger along the border with more police.
PEARCE: No, no, no, no. I was talking interior enforcement, not border.
PEARCE: And even then, I was just down there. I was just down there with the ranchers and the widow of Rob Krentz, Susie. And they said it is worse, it's as bad or worse than it has ever been. So, again, the misinformation has to stop.
BROWN: Well, I want to stay away from the anecdotal and stick with the figures as much as we can here.
PEARCE: Those are facts. OK, those are facts.
BROWN: All right. Representative Sinema, let me go to you. You have got both of your state senators who say the White House should let the law go into effect and then see what happens before forging ahead with a lawsuit. So, why not wait and see how this shakes out and whether it does do good?
Arizona Representative KYRSTEN SINEMA (D): Well, I think's important to note, first and foremost, that the Department of Justice has the clear authority and legal right to bring suit, even before the law is implemented. This law presents a great challenge and a really interesting legal question for our whole country. And hopefully this lawsuit can provide some clarity for those of us who are state actors, so we know where the state authority ends in terms of implementing immigration reform and where federal authority begins. I think that this law will allow the court to provide clarity not just for Arizona, but for the entire country, so we can have some real guidance on what kind of laws we can move forward with and what kind of laws we have to push Congress to pass and to enforce.
BROWN: Let me ask you, because, as I understand it, you are a constitutional lawyer.
BROWN: And Senator McCain says that challenging a law that hasn't gone into effect is a pretty heavy lift. Does he have a point here?
SINEMA: Oh, yes. It is difficult to challenge a law before it goes into effect. And what will be happening some time next week is that Judge Bolton, our district court judge, will be hearing what's called a request for injunction by the other five lawsuits that have already been filed. These groups are asking the court to enjoin the law, which means to stop it from going into effect, on July 29. And the court only grants injunctions when the plaintiffs present a good case and show that they are probably going to win.
BROWN: All right. Let me ask you about this, Senator Pearce, because you mentioned this in your comments a minute ago. Law enforcement groups, some at least, have expressed concerns about whether they are going to be able to enforce this. There are two separate lawsuits as I'm sure you know in Arizona courts right now. One police officer, I believe, from Tucson suing, claiming the law will -- and I have got the right quote here -- "seriously impede law enforcement investigations and facilitate the successful commission of crimes." I mean, what do you make of those concerns? These aren't about political issues. These are law enforcement officers, right?
PEARCE: Well, those are fabrications. Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, the largest law enforcement association in the state of Arizona, endorsed this bill and has filed to be an intervener to support this law. The Arizona Policeman Association, an umbrella organization of over 9,000 police officers, endorsed this bill. Nine out of 15 sheriffs endorsed this bill. The state fraternal order of police endorsed this bill. The Border Patrol Association endorsed this bill. That is such a fabrication. You always have an individual. The police chiefs don't endorse it because they work for open-border mayors, sanctuary mayors, who have always stated they don't want to enforce the law, have done everything they can not to enforce it. Let me bring up an interesting point.
BROWN: Hold on. Before you bring up that point, let me let her, let me let Representative Sinema respond to that, because we are running out of time for here. Go ahead.
SINEMA: Well, I do think it is important to note that many law enforcement officers are struggling with the failure of Congress to enact meaningful comprehensive reform. Right now in our state, we really are struggling with the lack of some kind of comprehensive law that gives law enforcement and police officers the tools they need to keep our communities safe. But some law enforcement officials have indicated some concern about the law because they could be sued for enforcing the law or sued for not enforcing the law.
SINEMA: So, it does place some of them in a difficult position.
BROWN: Representative Sinema and Senator Pearce, I know there are very strong views on both sides of this issue.
PEARCE: Well, I would like to correct some of the misinformation.
BROWN: Well, as I said, I wish we had more time to discuss this.
PEARCE: I do, too. It's very important.
BROWN: But thank you both for coming on. Really appreciate your time.
SINEMA: Thanks so much, Campbell.
PEARCE: Thank you.
--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.