Tensions Escalate Over Ariz. Immigration Law

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Tensions over immigration reform and border enforcement continue to escalate following the passage of Arizona's tough new immigration law.

Lawmakers in Washington continue to press the administration to deploy National Guard troops to help states secure their borders as Arizona takes steps to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs across its border with Mexico.

"We're going to continue to arrest people, book them into the jail," said Maricopa county Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Members of Congress have demanded that the federal government assign troops to guard the U.S. - Mexican border. But Homeland Security and Pentagon officials are at a stalemate over the plan.

Part of what is fueling the disconnect is the oil spill along the Gulf Coast.

In response to the disaster, the government authorized the deployment of up to 17,000 National Guard troops to help. However, lawmakers along border states say they are facing a crisis as well.

In a letter to President Barack Obama, Arizona Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl said sending at least 6,000 troops to the border would immediately improve the safety of Americans.

The decision to send or not send troops has been festering for months. Part of the logjam concerns who will fund the deployment -- the federal government or states. President Obama said he wants immigration reform, but criticizes Arizona's approach.

"I think the Arizona law has the potential of being applied in a discriminatory fashion," Obama said.

Obama was echoed by Mexican President Felipe Calderon who was the First Family's guest of honor at a White House state dinner on Wednesday.

"We firmly oppose the Arizona law," Calderon said.

But critics said the Mexican president has little to stand on, pointing out that Mexico's own immigration laws are exceptionally tough.

Meanwhile, Arizona has threatened to leave Los Angeles, Calif. in the dark if the city moves forward with a boycott of the state.

As much as 25 percent of electricity used by the City of Angels is generated by Arizona power plants.

"To take those lengths to support such a discriminatory law just amazes me," said Ed Reyes of the Los Angeles City Council

"This so called boycott of Arizona is going to backfire," said Gary Pierce, Arizona Corporation Commissioner.

The national immigration debate even made its way into what was supposed to be a photo opportunity with First Lady Michelle Obama and second graders at a Maryland school.

One of the students asked Mrs. Obama about something her mother told her.

"She says that Barack Obama is taking everybody away that doesn't have some papers," the girl told the First Lady.

"Yeah, well, that's something we have to work on, right?," Mrs. Obama responded. "To make sure that people can be here with the right kind of papers. Right?

"My mom doesn't have papers," the girl said.

The Department of Homeland Security suggested in a released statement it would not attempt to deport the little girl's mother.

"Our investigations are based on solid law enforcement work and not classroom Q and As," the statement said.

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CBN News
Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.