Mitch McConnell and Saxby Chambliss were both reading from the same script when asked about Arizona's new "show me your papers" immigration law. Mitch McConnell claimed he "hadn't studied it" and Saxby Chambliss called it a state's rights issue. Both of them claimed that the Congress just can't deal with immigration reform because there are too many other things they need to get done. Yeah, so few days, so many more bills and nominations to obstruct.
WALLACE: Let's start with the tough immigration law that the Republican governor of Arizona signed on Friday, which requires police officers to check the status of anyone that they reasonably suspect could be an illegal immigrant. Do you support the law? Do you think it's constitutional? What about the claim it will lead to racial profiling?
MCCONNELL: Well, I think the real question is whether we're going to take up immigration here in Washington. And there are two things missing that were there in '07. In '07, we had a rather low unemployment rate, and we had a president really committed to taking up the issue. Two of the cabinet secretaries were up during the debate for six weeks.
So I think the question for us is, are we going to go forward up here? And it strikes me that with all the border security problems we have down there, they're actually worse than they were three years ago, and with 10 percent unemployment, it's not a great time to take this issue up in Washington.
WALLACE: Are you prepared to comment on the Arizona bill?
MCCONNELL: I haven't studied it. I know it's quite controversial. But studying a state law is not something I normally do. And I just haven't looked at it in detail yet.
WALLACE: Don't Republicans -- and some would say that this is the whole point of this new Democratic zeal in Congress for pushing immigration reform -- don't Republicans run the risk of alienating a large and growing block of voters, Hispanics?
MCCONNELL: Look, I think it's an important issue. We do -- we have an enormous number of people who are in this country illegally. The important question, what to do with them? Guest worker issue. But of course, now we have a very high unemployment rate. I just don't think this is the right time to take up this issue with the border security problems, the drug wars going on across the border, 10 percent unemployment. It just strikes me that our time would be better spent at the federal level on other issues.
Saxby Chambliss' response below the fold.
CROWLEY: Senator Chambliss, when you look and you see the pictures out of Arizona and you listen to the governor, what you do know is that this is an urgent issue. So why not go ahead and take it up now?
CHAMBLISS: Well, it's a very peculiar issue to Arizona that is not taking place in many other states. Border states have unique problems when it comes to immigration. We -- we have an illegal alien problem here in Georgia, but it pales in comparison to what's going on out there. And we have this issue called state's rights. And this is one situation where the states of Arizona has decided to take matters into their own hands. And if that's what the people of Arizona want to do, then certainly they have that right.
Now, we do have a...
CROWLEY: But to the point of bringing it up in...
CHAMBLISS: We have a national problem. It is a national issue that needs to be addressed. And I hope we can do it in a reasonable and cautious manner, not let the emotions of people run away with this. Because it is, just simply stated, a very, very serious issue.
CROWLEY: But you're on -- you're on to go at it now rather than put climate change up on the docket?
CHAMBLISS: Well, I'm not sure how you can really justify bringing either one of them up at this point. I mean, we've got a budget to deal with. We normally get that done before the 15th of April. That has not been done. We have not done one single appropriation bill in the Senate. We have not done a defense authorization bill.
We've got a lot of work left on our plate between now and the end of the summer. And we're starting on financial regulatory reform, I assume, this week. That's going to consume an extensive period of time. I'm not sure where you find the time to deal with these other major issues.
CROWLEY: Gentlemen, stand by for me. We will be back with both senators. More on immigration and politics.