Arizona cancels border conference; other governors might override

Liz Goodwin
The Upshot

Arizona GOP Gov. Jan Brewer is used to being at the center of the U.S. controversy over immigration policy. But now she's sparking a furor among her Mexican counterparts too: Regional governors are protesting her cancellation of the Border Governors Conference on security issues and governmental cooperation.

Brewer pulled the plug on the annual event, which this year was to be held in Phoenix in September, after the Mexican governors said they'd boycott if Arizona was host. They cited their opposition to the state's law cracking down on illegal immigration.

U.S. state executives who also take part in the gathering, Democrat Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, say they do not want to cancel the event, according to the New York Times.

“Gov. Brewer doesn’t have the authority to cancel the Border Governors Conference,” Richardson spokesman Gilbert Gallegos told the Times. “Gov. Richardson will look for alternative sites to host the conference, with or without Arizona’s participation.”

A spokesman for Schwarzenegger said the California governor also wanted to move the conference out of Arizona.

Mexico's six border governors announced shortly after Brewer signed the bill into law in April that they would boycott the 28th annual U.S.-Mexico Border Governors Conference if organizers didn't arrange to move it from Phoenix. (The host rotates annually; this year was Arizona's turn.) Echoing criticism already aired by Mexican President Felipe Calderon, the governors said the law would incite discrimination against Latinos in Arizona.

In a note dated June 30 on the otherwise cheerful website celebrating the conference, Brewer said she was "disappointed" at the six Mexican governors for declining to enter Arizona. "At this time, I find no appropriate alternative to cancellation, since each of you has stated in your correspondence that you will not come due to legislation recently passed in Arizona," she wrote.