Jan Brewer admits that her first attempt at political writing is more than a bit one-sided.
In an interview with Capitol Media Services, the Arizona governor acknowledged that every criticism of federal policy on immigration in her book, “Scorpions for Breakfast,” is aimed at President Barack Obama and his administration. Brewer is without mercy in her treatment of the Democratic incumbent.
But Brewer, whose book goes on sale Tuesday, said other presidents share in the failure to secure the borders. And that includes GOP icon Ronald Reagan.
“A lot of things got left out of the books because we were trying to tell the story of SB 1070 and the issue at hand,” the governor said. Brewer said she wanted the focus to be on her decision last year to sign what was billed as the toughest law aimed at illegal immigrants in the country and the challenge to it mounted by the Obama administration.
“But I’ve been on record saying when President Reagan tried to do what he did, he unfortunately didn’t deliver on the promise,” Brewer said.
That 1986 law included a promise of tighter border security and enhanced penalties for employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers. But it also said that any immigrant who could show he or she was in the country prior to 1982 could apply for legal status.
“The bottom line is, he granted amnesty to 3 or 4 million people,” Brewer said.
“And never were our borders secured,” the governor continued. “The issue was never contained.”
Brewer also said that, from her perspective, George W. Bush, Obama’s predecessor, showed little interest in stemming the flow of illegal immigrants across the southern border.
“They felt that we needed those illegals coming into our country to do jobs that Americans wouldn’t do,” she said of the Bush administration.
Brewer said it is possible that Bush may have been right, at least on the point of some jobs being so distasteful to U.S. citizens that foreign labor is needed.
“If there aren’t Americans that want to do those jobs, then we need to get some kind of provision enacted where we can get immigrants into the United States into the numbers that are required, keep track of them — and then return them back to their countries at the appropriate time after agricultural pickings are through,” Brewer said. “I’m not an international expert on that.”
Brewer’s new book also contains a confession of sorts: She didn’t exactly give the public the whole story last year after her meeting with Obama.
On emerging from the White House, the governor said she had “a very cordial discussion of what’s taking place in Arizona and dealing with the security of our border and illegal immigration into the state of Arizona and into America.”
Her book, however, paints a far different description.
“It was though President Obama thought he could lecture me, and I would learn at his knee,” the governor wrote, calling his tone “patronizing.”
“He thinks he can humor me and then get rid of me,” Brewer wrote.
Questioned about the different description, the governor said she did not lie.
“I mean, we weren’t yelling at one another, screaming at one another,” she said.
“But it was a pretty one-sided conversation,” Brewer said. “He was, I believe, condescending. And he was lecturing me about what we were going to do and how we were going to do it.”
Brewer said, though, she decided to hold her tongue — at least at time.
“It is because I was promised that he would get back with me, get in contact with me within two weeks, and I would have a report,” she said.
“And I thought that after our conversation that, possibly, there was hope,” Brewer said. “Maybe I was naive.”
The White House had no comment on Brewer’s book.
Obama did send a deputy national security adviser to Arizona several weeks later to provide some details on how the administration planned to deploy 1,200 National Guard soldiers in support roles along the border, with 524 of those in this state.