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Obama, Arizona Governor Meet on Immigration, Controversial State Law


The governor of the U.S. state of Arizona met with President Obama at the White House on Thursday, to discuss the controversial law due to go into effect next month aimed at illegal immigrants. The talks in the Oval Office came amid ongoing national debate over President Obama's stated goal of reforming U.S. immigration law:

It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two since Arizona's state legislature passed the law in April allowing law enforcement officials to demand a person's proof of citizenship if there is reason to believe they are in the United States illegally.

The president has been under pressure from Congress to take stronger action to stem the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico. He has asked for an additional $500 million to bolster border security, and is sending 1,200 National Guard troops to assist federal officials.

The president and Brewer have been at odds over the Arizona law, which President Obama has called discriminatory, and which his administration is considering challenging in court.

Addressing reporters, Brewer said she was encouraged and said the president agreed to work together, but she reiterated her position on the Arizona law.

"It was the right thing to do, I believe that we are protecting the people of Arizona, and beyond that I believe we are protecting the people of America," said Brewer.

Brewer said the president told her the majority of resources he has requested, including National Guard troops, would go to Arizona.

On a possible government legal challenge to the Arizona law, she quoted President Obama as saying he would leave that up to the Department of Justice.

As Brewer was speaking, representatives of groups opposing the Arizona law demonstrated outside the White House grounds, among them Gustavo Andrade representing the group Casa de Maryland.

"What do we want? Immigration reform. When do we want it? Now," shout demonstrators.

"Governor Brewer is legalizing racism in her state," said Andrade. [The law] is nothing else than a way to target the immigrant population of Arizona and to make their lives as difficult as possible."

Governor Brewer has rejected suggestions that implementation of the Arizona law be delayed, telling reporters a modification approved earlier by Arizona's legislature will prevent racial profiling.

On the overall issue of immigration Brewer, a conservative Republican, said she specifically did not commit to helping President Obama obtain Republican support for legislation he wants Congress to make progress on this year.

She said the discussions also focused on the president's call for a path to citizenship, saying she reiterated her opposition to any amnesty.

The Arizona law has become an irritant in U.S.-Mexico relations, with Mexican President Felipe Calderon renewing his criticism of it during his U.S. visit last month.

Civil rights groups and critics say the Arizona law is discriminatory, while supporters call it an understandable and valid response to the wave of crime in border states blamed on illegal immigrants.

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