(WASHINGTON) — President Obama was pleased by the Supreme Court’s ruling on Arizona’s contested immigration law, but is still concerned about one provision upheld by the court that allows state police officers to ask citizens in certain scenarios for their immigration status, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
“While the president is pleased with the decision by the Supreme Court to strike down much of the Arizona law, we remain concerned about how the Section 2 would be implemented and concerned about the impact it might have on-depending upon how it’s implemented-the impact implementation could have on civil rights,” Carney said, echoing what President Obama said in a statement shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling this morning. “Obviously we’re committed to the protection of the civil rights of the American people.”
And Carney, who was speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on the way to a campaign rally in New Hampshire, quickly pointed out the politics of the issue, attacking Republicans for flip-flopping on the issue.
“This president’s commitment to immigration reform is strong, his commitment to border security is strong and has been demonstrated by his record and he believes we need to take steps to provided the kind of comprehensive immigration reform Republicans have resisted. Congress has to act,” Carney said. “Unfortunately what we’ve seen is a retreat by leaders of the Republican party in these past several years from a position of advocating comprehensive immigration reform, to what we saw during the Republican primaries … was an embrace of the Arizona law as a model for the nation. A position that hardly suggests the desire for comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform,” he said.
The president’s rival, Republican Mitt Romney, has stayed mum to the point that it’s not clear if Romney supports the law the Supreme Court ruled on. Or, if like the court, he agrees with parts of it and not with others.
In a short statement released after the Supreme Court decision, Romney said President Obama “has failed to provide any leadership on immigration.” And he pointed out that while candidate Obama promised comprehensive reform, President Obama has not been able to carry through.
Romney said at a debate in Arizona and sponsored by CNN that a different Arizona immigration law that requires employers to verify a worker’s legal status should be a model for the nation. But he has not specifically said if he supports the Arizona’s policy – affirmed today by the Supreme Court – of asking people stopped by local police for immigration documentation.
Asked repeatedly today whether Romney supports the Arizona immigration law, and what he thinks of the parts overturned by the court, Romney spokesman Rick Gorka said that Romney believes states have the right to draft immigration laws of their own when the federal government fails to do so.
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Seth Fiegerman, CNN
Dylan Byers, CNN
Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, CNN