California governor hopeful Whitman opposes new Arizona law |

California governor hopeful Whitman opposes new Arizona law

Juliet Williams
Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Meg Whitman, the Republican front-runner in the California gubernatorial primary, said Tuesday that Arizona is taking the wrong approach to illegal immigration with its tough new law.

The former eBay chief executive said there are more effective approaches than requiring law enforcement officers to question people about their status if they suspect they are in the country illegally.

“I think there’s just better ways to solve this problem,” Whitman said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “I’m a big believer in, ‘What are the two or three things that will make the biggest difference here?'”

She wants the state and federal governments to spend more money on border security and favors sanctions against employers who hire illegal workers. Employers would face increasing fines and suspensions, leading to the permanent suspension of their California business license after a third violation.

Whitman also wants to ban the admission of undocumented students to state-funded colleges.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who is in a tight Republican primary battle, signed the law last week, sparking protests and threats of boycotts against the state’s tourism industry.

Whitman declined to say whether she believes the law is racist, as critics have charged.

Her opponent in the California GOP primary, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, wants to end many state-funded services for illegal immigrants and their children.

He has sought to make illegal immigration a campaign issue, airing television ads in which he says California’s economy is being ruined because politicians have failed to tackle the issue.

In a statement from his campaign Tuesday, Poizner reiterated his support for ending non-emergency services to illegals and revoking business licenses of companies that employ them, saying those should be the first steps taken in California. But he declined to offer a specific position on Arizona’s law, which takes effect later this summer.

“We will watch closely to see how the law in Arizona is implemented and whether it produces positive results,” Poizner said.

Sterling Clifford, a spokesman for California Attorney General Jerry Brown, the Democratic nominee for governor, said he opposes the Arizona law.

“The Arizona law is legally problematic,” Brown said in a statement released by his campaign. “This is an issue of federal responsibility, and the federal government needs to step up, secure the border and enact sensible immigration reform.”

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