California's Lungren: Arizona immigration lawsuit 'dumb'

Sacramento BeeJuly 6, 2010 

It's fair to say that Rep. Dan Lungren is no fan of President Barack Obama's approach on immigration.

Actually, that would be an understatement.

The California Republican says he wants comprehensive reform that accelerates citizenship for those who entered the U.S. legally, that increases the number of visas for highly skilled workers and that strengthens border security.

But he says the president has "poisoned the well" by talking about a path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants already in the country — what many in the Republican Party consider amnesty.

Obama's first major speech on the subject last week was very disappointing, and makes it virtually impossible for any action this year, Lungren says.

And Obama's Justice Department filing suit today against the state of Arizona over its new law targeting illegal immigrants?

"I think it's wrong. I think it's dumb," Lungren told The Bee's editorial board this afternoon.

The Arizona law, which is to take effect July 29, requires law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of people they stop — if they have a reasonable suspicion the person might be in the country illegally.

The federal lawsuit says the law usurps authority reserved for the federal government, will create a patchwork of immigration law and will divert federal resources. Critics also say the law will inevitably lead to racial profiling.

But Lungren — who says that unlike many opponents he's actually read the law — says there are enough protections written into it to prevent such abuses. While supporting Arizona's law, he said that a federal solution would be much better.

Obama's strategy won't lead to one, however, Lungren said. And he can't see how it will help Democrats in the November election, especially moderate and conservative "Blue Dogs" who have already stuck their necks out on health care reform.

"They're not taking my political advice," Lungren said.

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