Arizona, one of only four border states in the United States, and one of the the only two under partial or total Republican control, has suffered from Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s lackluster performance on immigration, with Brnovich repeatedly sparring with President Donald Trump and abandoning the fight for stronger immigration laws. Despite this, Brnovich is now attempting a run for U.S. Senate.
Just a few months into his term as Attorney General, one of Brnovich’s first surrenders was on the immigration front. The casualty of this retreat was Arizona’s Coyote Law, first implemented in 2005 as a means to crack down on human smuggling across the southern border. Strengthened by SB 1070 in 2010, the law allowed for illegal aliens to be charged as conspirators for smuggling themselves across the border. Generally, illegal aliens pay coyotes thousands of dollars to be smuggled across the border, making them active participants in the criminal act.
After the law was struck down in 2013 by a U.S. District Court Judge in Phoenix, the state appealed the lower court’s ruling in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, requesting that the law be reinstated. In early April of 2015, less than three months after being sworn in as Attorney General, Brnovich filed a motion to dismiss the state’s appeal, ultimately allowing the law to die by forbidding state authorities from enforcing it any further.
Brnovich attempted to justify this decision by claiming that it was his “obligation to be responsible with taxpayer dollars and defend the state where we are most likely to prevail.” Essentially using the same argument that South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) would use years later to explain her backing down on an anti-transgender bill, Brnovich used the excuse that an uphill struggle was enough reason to walk away from a fight, even though he acknowledged that “Arizona voters entrusted me with defending Arizona’s illegal immigration enforcement statutes.”
He also pivoted to other, unrelated immigration policies that he did support, as an attempted distraction from his failure on this particular law. Among them were “the state’s right to determine driver’s license eligibility,” “challenging the ability of community colleges to offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants,” as well as his having “joined the lawsuit challenging President Obama’s authority to grant amnesty.”
Brnovich has for the most part opposed immigration reform policies of any incumbent president, including those from his own party. Even after President Donald Trump took office and began fulfilling his promises on immigration, Brnovich once again stood in the way of some of his most successful policies.
Among the most prominent examples of Brnovich clashing with President Trump was the matter of a proposed citizenship question on the U.S. Census, a proposal by the Trump Administration which had truly historic and wide-ranging implications for the future of the American immigration system, both legal and illegal.
Although Brnovich ultimately did not join in on the lawsuit filed by 17 other states to outright block the policy, the Attorney General nevertheless had strong words of criticism for President Trump with regards to the proposed new question, making it clear that his neutrality in that particular battle was no endorsement of the question itself. Brnovich’s spokesman Ryan Anderson said in June of 2019 that the issue of the citizenship question had become “overly politicized,” and that Brnovich’s office had “broad concerns regarding the collection and use of data by the government that go beyond the current lawsuit.”
Brnovich’s war of words with President Trump over the finer details of immigration policy did not start there. Back while the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was still active, Brnovich had filed his own lawsuit with the Supreme Court in 2018 to review an appellate court ruling that had struck down the state’s 2012 law denying so-called “DREAMers” access to state driver’s licenses. But the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice was working on their own efforts to overturn DACA, with federal solicitor Noel Francisco pointing out that Brnovich’s filings ultimately lacked the proper evidence to prove its case, and thus the appellate court had reached the correct conclusion in declaring that Arizona was “legally wrong.”
In response, Brnovich claimed that the Trump Administration was “surprisingly dismissive” of the state of Arizona’s concerns, and instead “focused on its own project” and “eager to advance its own extraordinary petition” to overturn DACA. Brnovich further suggested that the two different approaches to the matter by the state government and the federal government implied that the “two-dimensional division of power at the core of our Constitution” was being “collapsed into the president alone.” As such, Brnovich claimed that a high court ruling in Arizona’s favor would not only be a statement on DACA itself, but a broader vindication of separation of powers.
During his tenure in office, Brnovich has demonstrated that he is woefully unwilling to address immigration, despite it being considered critical by the majority of Republican voters. Even now, while the Biden regime allows millions of illegal aliens across the southern border, and is flying in hundreds of thousands of so-called Afghan refugees, Brnovich has remained on the sidelines, despite holding power for six years.
Along with Brnovich’s “lackluster” display regarding the fight for election integrity following the 2020 election, his immigration record suggests the Attorney General also willing to turn the battleground of immigration into an opportunity to elevate his profile and portray himself as a fighter, unless he determines that the fight is unwinnable, or not worth joining. When he is prepared to actually take a particular policy to court, he is just as willing to fight with a sitting president from the his own party as he would a president on the other side. Arizona already has a frustrating history of electing self-declared “mavericks” to the Senate; the last thing it needs is another one who will continue the tradition of aimless sniping and calculated retreats.
Brnovich is currently running the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to replace newly-elected Democrat Senator Mark Kelly, who recently dropped his lawsuit against National File prompted when this publication published photos that appear to show Kelly dressed as genocidal dictator Adolf Hitler in a yearbook. Also running for the Republican nomination are Jim Lamon, who became wealthy in the solar energy industry, and Blake Masters, the president of Thiel Capital and co-author of Thiel’s book, “Zero to One: Notes on Startups.”
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