Lack of immigration reform “crazy”: Schwarzenegger
MEXICO CITY – California Gov.Arnold Schwarzenegger said the federal government was “crazy” to clamp down on border security without also passing a law to allow more foreign workers into the United States.
Schwarzenegger was one of few Republicans to do well in the midterm elections after distancing himself from President Bush and taking more moderate positions. He said a U.S. plan to build more fences on the Mexican border was only a limited solution to the illegal immigration problem.
“It is crazy for the federal government not to simultaneously … also create a law where we can bring more people into the country legally,” he said during a private meeting with Mexican President-elect Felipe Calderon.
California relies heavily on Mexican agricultural workers.
The governor’s camera crew allowed reporters to listen to a recording of part of the meeting, and press secretary Marguita Thompson confirmed the governor’s comments.
The former bodybuilder and movie star won re-election in a landslide on Tuesday.
At the same time, Democrats took a majority of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, which will give the party control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 12 years.
Schwarzenegger said the 110th Congress, which convenes in January, could speed up immigration reform.
“The good thing is that new blood comes to Washington, new Democrats, new Republicans,” he told reporters in the northern city of Monterrey.
“I think there is a better chance to move immigration reform forward much quicker,” he said before meeting with business leaders in the industrial city.
Bush signed legislation last month to build 700 miles of border fencing after failing to persuade Republican leaders in Congress to back a comprehensive measure that included a guest-worker program for illegal immigrants.
Schwarzenegger, in Mexico to promote California exports, said lawmakers should have passed a two-pronged approach that mixed border enforcement with more visas for foreign workers.
“It is insane … not to have been able to accomplish it this year,” he said.
Calderon, a conservative who replaces President Vicente Fox on December 1, was mostly silent in the short excerpt taken at the start of a meeting between the two.
The pair went on to talk about trade, the environment and the economy, a Schwarzenegger aide said. Calderon met Bush in the White House on a visit to Washington this week.