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Gibbons demands Obama take action on immigration; Harry Reid responds

Updated Monday, April 26, 2010 | 1:52 p.m.

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Gov. Jim Gibbons

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Harry Reid

On the heels of Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigration, Gov. Jim Gibbons today issued a statement saying he is demanding the Obama administration take immediate action to enforce federal immigration laws.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid responded to the governor's statement this afternoon.

Gibbons said Obama is ignoring the federal government's responsibility in protecting the country's borders. He said the Obama administration's inaction is forcing states like Arizona to respond, leaving state taxpayers to foot the bill.

"This president and this administration, including Congressional Leaders Senator Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are shamelessly pandering for political gain," Gibbons said in a statement. "These people should start acting like leaders and start enforcing federal laws. Instead, they blame others for their own ineffectiveness."

Gibbons said federal immigration laws should take technological advances into account, such as facial recognition and biometric ID card technology.

"There are people crossing the border committing violent crimes and others who want to harm America through terrorism," Gibbons said. "President Obama, Reid and Pelosi are 'asleep at the switch' and they must take action now or America families will continue to suffer."

In response to Gibbons, Reid said in a statement Monday afternoon that Republicans have blocked attempts at immigration reform.

"As the governor should know, no one has spent more time on this issue in the Senate than I have," Reid said. "Unfortunately, even though the last immigration reform bill was supported by then-President George W. Bush, Republicans blocked it. The Senate is going to try once again to pass reform that is tough on people who break the law, fair to taxpayers and practical to implement. If Governor Gibbons is sincere in his desire to reform our broken immigration system, I hope he will encourage his fellow Republicans to begin working with us on solutions, rather than just saying ‘no’."

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed a tough immigration bill on Friday, has argued Arizona must act because the federal government has failed to stop the steady stream of illegal immigrants and drugs that move through Arizona from Mexico.

Opponents say the law will lead to rampant racial profiling and turn Arizona into a police state with provisions that require police to question people about their immigrant status if they suspect they are here illegally. Day laborers can be arrested for soliciting work if they are in the U.S. illegally, and police departments can be sued if they don't carry out the law.

But supporters of the law, set to take effect in late July or August, say it is necessary to protect Arizonans from a litany of crimes committed by illegal immigrants. Arizona is home to an estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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