Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger raised eyebrows in a speech to national newspaper publishers Tuesday with strong comments on immigration, saying the current policy on preventing illegal immigrants from crossing the border is too “lax.”
“It’s a federal issue, and the only thing that I can say and add to this is really, close the borders,” Schwarzenegger said. “Close the borders in California and all across Mexico and in the United States. Because I think it is just unfair to have all those people coming across, have the borders open the way it is, and have this kind of lax situation.”
The Republican governor also suggested exploring several policy proposals aimed at addressing the immigration crisis, including President Bush’s proposed guest worker program and legislation sponsored by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., to pave the way for undocumented workers already living in the United States to attain legal status.
In a statement, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, said Schwarzenegger’s comments reflected badly on the state’s “productive” relationship with Mexico.
“The Gov. should ratchet down his rhetoric and retreat from this narrow-minded approach to immigration policy,” Nunez said. “Closing our borders to commerce and culture is an idea that comes from political extremists, not rational policy-makers.”