Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer points during an intense conversation with President Barack Obama after he arrived at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport on January 25, in Mesa, Arizona. Asked moments later what the conversation was about, Brewer, a Republican, said: "He was a little disturbed about my book." Brewer recently published a book, <i>Scorpions for Breakfast</i>, something of a memoir of her years growing up and defends her signing of Arizona's controversial law cracking down on illegal immigrants, which Obama opposes. Obama was objecting to Brewer's description of a meeting he and Brewer had at the White House, where she described Obama as lecturing her.

Gov. Jan Brewer Confronts President Obama Like Immigration Laws—Head On

Anne Minard

UPDATE JANUARY 28, 12:00 A.M.: In an Associated Press article posted on The Arizona Republic today, a copy of the letter that Gov. Jan Brewer gave to President Barack Obama ishighlighted and details the immigration laws that Arizona has passed, a subject that the two continue to come to blows over. The letter was presented to Obama upon arrival and during their confrontation Obama brought up his dissatisfaction with how Brewer portrayed him in her book.

President Obama got a tepid greeting and a stern talking-to when he landed in Phoenix, Arizona this week, with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer even wagging her finger at the nation’s president over their differences of opinion on immigration.

And while Arizona tribes generally stay mum on the divisive issue of immigration, one Navajo Nation spokesman says Brewer’s bold stand against the president comes just in time to get Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly out of the hotseat.

The president’s spokesman, Erny Zah, has been fielding calls all week because Shelly said last week that Brewer’s direct style “turns me on.” The widely reported comments have drawn reprimands from council delegates and the public alike. Zah has been maintaining all along that Brewer wasn’t offended by Shelly’s remarks, and he said he now feels vindicated.

“She had no problem telling the President of the United States what she thought,” Zah said. “If President Shelly’s comments had really offended her, what would have stopped her from saying something to Shelly?”

It’s not the first time Brewer and the Obama Administration have come to loggerheads over immigration; Brewer alleged in a lawsuit last fall that the Obama Administration is doing precious little to stem the tide of illegal immigrants across Arizona’s border with Mexico. A U.S. District court dropped the lawsuit in October, but tensions remain.

An excerpt taken from Brewer’s book Scorpions for Breakfast, (published in November of 2011) sheds light on the tensions between the state and the federal government, “The story of SB 1070 is the story of an arrogant, out of control federal government. The people of Arizona watched for years as our border went unenforced, as our schools and hospitals became overwhelmed with poor, desperate illegal aliens, and finally, as violent crime invaded our cities when the Mexican drug cartels took over the border crossings.”

Arizona’s own immigration law, known as SB 1070, stirred intense debate when it passed in early 2010. Critics complain it amounts to racial profiling, especially a controversial provision requiring law enforcement officers to investigate the immigration status of anyone they suspect may be an illegal immigrant. That provision was blocked in federal court a day before the law was to go into effect. It remains blocked today, despite Arizona’s ongoing legal appeals. The case is now awaiting review in U.S. Supreme Court.

“I am fighting Washington to make it do what it's supposed to do. The Constitution is very clear. Article IV, Section 4 imposes on the federal government the duty to ‘protect each state against Invasion, Domestic Violence," she states in Scorpions for Breakfast.

For the most part, Arizona tribes are reticent to talk about the thorny issue of immigration. Several tribes – including Colorado River Indian Tribes, Salt River Pima-Maricopa, the Quechan Tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation and the Tohono O’odham Nation – were contacted for a response to the flare-up between Obama and Brewer, but did not respond. Juana Gyek, communications specialist for the Cocopah tribe near Yuma, Arizona, wrote in an e-mail that, “the tribe will not make comments at this time regarding Arizona immigration issues.”

The Navajo Nation’s Shelly issued a carefully worded statement and asked his spokesman to refrain from elaborating in too much detail.

“I know our Navajo Nation council passed a resolution asking to repeal the law [SB 1070], but it’s a touchy subject for Navajo people,” Shelly stated. “Some want to repeal it and some don’t. My focus right now is on policies we can implement on the Navajo Nation. Immigration is a national issue, but my focus is job creation, protection of our resources and our land.”

Zah added that Navajo people are divided on Arizona’s strict law, especially because some families include in-laws who have come across the border.

“If you support the law, you are anti- some Navajo families,” he explained. “If you don’t, then you’re advocating for some of the illegal immigration.”

Still others recognize that the controversial SB 1070 provision that targets people who may look Mexican can be unfair to Navajos. “If you were to put a non-ethnic person next to a Navajo and a Mexican, we’re going to resemble more of the stereotypical undocumented immigrant,” Zah said.

Finally, there’s the highly important issue of sovereignty, he said: Arizona as a government has a right to put in place a policy that it believes will benefit the state as a whole – just like the Navajo Nation has a right to implement policies that will benefit the Navajo Nation as a whole.”

As most tribal nations side with Obama on the immigration issue, they have still found a way to live with the woman who eats scorpions for breakfast.

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page



osiyo11's picture
Submitted by osiyo11 on
I take no issue with Governor Brewer disagreeing or being dissatisfied with federal action/inaction. But, her finger wagging behavior is repulsive and an embarrassment to AZ. Her inhumane budget cuts to medicare, racial profiling and general lack of real intelligence and class were caught for all to see. I am sure that there are some that think this is acceptable behavior. Her lack of respect is something that people in Indian Country should be well familiar. Personally, I would have liked to have seen the Secret Service take her to the ground on her belly like the snake she is. Actually that is disrespectful to the snake. Anyone that would disallow money for organ transplant is simply inhumane.

wisgriz's picture
Submitted by wisgriz on
As most tribal nations side with Obama on the immigration issue, would you be more specfic on who the tribal nations are? Are they the Arizona tribes? I don't like the assumptions your making by all nations. I am an Ojibwa who lived in Canada and now live in my home community. Where are your views on the Northern Border? Canadian Natives are dual citizens and obey the requirements to live here. They now are subject to more regulations to come here to live and travel freely. Some can't afford the fee for a passport. However; people from Latin America come here for a better way of life.They get a free pass to live here. They don't speak English. The people you need to blame for the immigration are the countries of their origin for their coming to America. They mistreat their own by their backward policies which holds them back. Why not write on the T'O people who have been victimized on their own tribal land. Wisgriz

brittanicus's picture
Submitted by brittanicus on
TAXPAYERS ARE THE PAYEE FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS Newt Gingrich has no right to offer any amnesty or path to citizenship to any person, as former speaker is not paying for the unfunded mandates we as Americans are weighed down with; for their children's education, or family health care, food stamps, federal housing or other welfare or even a stint in America’s prison system. Nobody in this country should be financially supported by taxpayers, who entered this country illegally or should they get any kind of amnesty? It’s not condescending, but if you came to America by whatever means without permission of the People via the US government, you are violating this country’s sovereignty rights? I doubt if there is any country on Mother Earth, where you would not be imprisoned or immediately deported? Mexican laws have very strict statutes, that illegal entry is punishable as a Felony. Congress and being owned by special interests money doesn't impose a felony. It's a walk away "slap-on-the-hand punishment and then unless it’s a second entry after deportation, you can now walk away from being incarcerated--thanks to the executive order from President Obama. Life has been made so easy for foreign nationals, which they can even demonstrate in the streets, demanding rights without any recourse from ICE? They shouldn't even be here, but they are able to ride the welfare programs through a poor interpretation of the 14th Amendment. People come from every hemisphere after waiting years for a visa, but others steel in disguised as a tourist with unborn babies or just steal across our perforated border fence. Then they go about stealing somebody’s Identification to get a job, procure that persons credit. Our once praiseworthy schools are now poorly recognized for performance, as they were 30 years ago. The top State for education originated in California and now it is somewhere around the bottom of the barrel. Millions who swarmed into Los Angeles County have turned it into miles of poverty stricken neighborhoods, without any countermeasures from the immigration police. Hospitals are hurting from unpaid treatments and Border States saw many of these institutions go bankrupt—another good example of unfunded mandates. Prez Obama is on hunt for more votes in 2012, so it makes major sense to fly off to Nevada, heavily populated with illegal aliens and a very poor set of voting regulations. Every American must be involved to oversee the outcome of every precinct and the value of Absentee Ballots that are easily forged. How can the United States government expect to support, the senior citizens, along with veterans, homeless and infirm citizens, when they are subsidizing 440 000 illegal alien infants annually. Why patriotic Americans who speak up for themselves should, be forced to feel guilty or defend their stance on illegal immigration. The Tea Party doesn't--that for sure, and rigidly holds the line on another blanket amnesty, sanctuary city policies, and dream acts, family chain migration or any other law, which eventually falls to the taxpayers in supporting unfunded mandates. I think the President is in for a rude awakening as pro-illegal alien Democrats, Republicans lawmakers start to lose their seats in the Senate or House in the forthcoming months. Why should Americans be forced by the law courts to be the payee for the rest of the world? No matter for what issue, whether foreign or domestic policies? We must look to employing our own low income, white and blue collar labor and stop the incessant pandering to lawbreakers. Our Immigration laws are not broken as the Liberal press assures us, as they are either eating out of the hands of the newspaper owners or carefully manipulated by unions, non-profits and radical groups. With probably the most important Election in decades we must be seriously vigilant of no real movement on behalf of this administration, to stop non-citizens voting. They will and have driven by the re animated ACORN organization who are accomplished in fraudulent canvassing for votes. All would-be presidential candidates should be well aware of illegal aliens voting, specifically when they are very likely to be issued a deportation order. Of course if other states akin to Arizona are crushed by the iron hand of the Department of In-Justice, run by Liberal progressive Eric Holder who reputation is ruined by his involvement in the gun running carnival, which killed a US border Patrolmen? Simple and with no cost to taxpayers is the well documented “ATTRITION BY ENFORCEMENT.” Self-Deportation will commence when Aliens cannot support their families, with the implementation of Mandatory E-Verify. Mitt Romney is certainly correct about E-Verify and its powerful influence would drive the illegal aliens home and nothing need be done except multiple lightening raids by ICE on businesses. His minions in the Justice Department have sued any state that has been fighting for financial survival and then plagued Conservative Governors Jan Brewer as she in most frontier States have been forced by the liberal judiciary to subsidize any impoverished person who squats in that state. Two bills are ready to arrive at the floor of the House of Representative, which could injure the mechanism that awards criminal acts of illegal immigration. E-Verify --The "Legal Workforce Act" that can contain the 8 million working illegal aliens and will halt them in their tracks. The E-Verify program must be succeeding as 4 Democrats have now co-sponsored this bill and you should contact your federal or local lawmaker at 202-224-3121. A simple method of identifying who is hired by companies, that doesn't want to become a victim of incompetence,. They know full well that when this law is passed, they will be facing heavy fines, loss of assets and even time behind bars. A few citizens or authorized or lawful residents, which fall through the cracks, can find relief by going to the local Social Security office; aliens will flee, rather than entering a federal agency. Another bill less publicized by the Liberal press or other media, is the “Birthright Citizenship" amendment, which would offer no more foothold for the illegal parent or parents of children smuggled into America. No more easy preference for a pregnant Mother so she can immediately get public assistance, hospital birthing, food stamps or anything else given freely by our indifferent government. Whoever wins the presidency--Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum or even Ron Paul must be held accountable, for every promise they declare to the public audience. Make your own judgment for who you will vote for, whether a new state governor, a new state senator or those in the highest levels of government who have been secretive in pouring billions in taxpayer money to support the 20 million and more who have settled here illegally. Any search engine such as Google Yahoo will show you hundreds of reports on the real costs, graphs and other statistics. The power of the American people, that is the TEA PARTY, is sickened by the complete abuse of laws from the founding fathers. NumbersUSA has displays of grafts and the presidential hopeful’s grades on illegal immigration. Want to know how minority speaker deceived the system through her corruption; it is well illustrated in the legal watchdog pages of Judicial Watch. Want to know the nauseating cost if President Obama slips through a blanket amnesty, that’s found at Hermitage Foundation. The TEA PARTY does not alienate any race or nationality as the Liberal media would like you to think? It just requests the 1986 Immigration law (IRCA) enforced and not altered to pander to illegal migrants and immigrants. President Obama is pandering to these people for votes--illegal or a legal immigrant. Neither non-citizen can vote but WILL unless we introduce federal possession of a picture ID to vote. Learn more at NumbersUSA

sonomajoe's picture
Submitted by sonomajoe on
Pitiful behavior from the Arizona Governor. "Observe decorum, and it will open a path to morality." Mason Cooley

tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
I take no issue with our AZ Gov taking a stand against a weak-minded, politically-inclined.................................federal public policy to Illegal immigration. The Democratic Federals have taken the approach of leaving all alone for RE-ELECTION and if they don't resolve, then it is the next Administration's problem. If this were any-body else other than this man, i.e. Republican, then the sheeple and naysayers would be applauding and celebrating a woman standing up to a man. For you racial mongers and agitators, a W.A.S.P. if you will. For far too long cross-border excursions into the United States, have taken on Arizona resident lives, e.g. Ranchers, and taken away from legitimate American Indian resources to not just Tohono Odham but indirectly to other Arizona indian tribes. I am very happy Arizona has taken a stand AGAINST politically-sensitive and inclined, public policy of which illegal migration at the will of Central American Governments feeds into this 'plan'. For legitimate American Indians to 'support' this cause (never mind the liberal-minded agitators), are you sure you're willing to give up the future of your american indian family (this generation and next) to social-experiments based on Hispanic-interest causes and relations. If history is any indication, look at the Spanish movement into Central American, the plight of indigienous indian tribes in Central and South American, the Grand Socialist-ideals of Cuba, Venazaula, etc. For 20+ million illegal migrants from south of border to become potential Americans who exactly self-sufficient or independent-minded, well somebody in the United States is going to have to feed them.....US public policy has to be shifted to 'support' these migrants. I can't think of any alternatives other than to dip into 'over-due and over-extended' US American Indian policies and shift those resources to effectively make good US citizens of hispanic descent. All one has to do is look at the La Raza movement and look at what they've been trying to achieve for decades.....which is trying to happen.

Mikesports5's picture
Submitted by Mikesports5 on
Brewer is correct, if the federal government allows more illegals in Arizona the state will have to use more money to cover their expenses and that takes money from native people outside the Rez. I don't know who they are taking to in this article but every Navajo (Dineh) I talk to wants to stop illegal immigration. Illegal immigration hurts all Americans especially Natives. Being asked to see my I.D. is a small price to pay for my children's future. Once the illegal immigration is stopped the I.D. checking will only be a memory. Remember that Apache and Navajo kept the Mexicans out for hundreds of years and we did a great job, now it is the federal governments turn lets support them for our children's future.