September 20, 2010, 2:02 PM
Border Governors Conference Under Way, Minus Most Governors
By MARC LACEY
SANTA FE, N.M. — There was plenty of star power present at the kickoff reception for the U.S.-Mexico border governors’ conference on Sunday night. Over there, Shirley MacLaine, the actress. And there, Sam Donaldson, the newsman. All around, politicians from Mexico.
But it was those who did not show up to sip margaritas at Gov. Bill Richardson’s hilltop home who were the subject of the most attention.
Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas stayed away from the session, which Mr. Richardson organized after six Mexican governors, in protest of Arizona’s immigration crackdown, refused to attend a summit that Ms. Brewer had been planning in Phoenix.
Then, at the last minute, there was another no show. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a co-chairman of the rogue session in Santa Fe, sent word that budget woes in Sacramento would prevent him from attending. He sent his lieutenant governor, Abel Maldonado, instead.
Although Mr. Maldonado dazzled the crowd by recounting, in Spanish, how he was the son of Mexican field workers, it was not lost on anybody that Mr. Schwarzenegger’s absence meant Mr. Richardson was the lone governor from the United States at the session.
Representation by Mexican governors was robust, with all six from the Mexican side of the border showing up along with many governors-elect who were voted in over the summer, organizers said. Ms. Brewer’s name did not come up directly in the opening remarks, but Gov. Humberto Moreira Valdés of Mexico’s Coahuila State left no doubt about who he was speaking about when he praised Mr. Richardson and Mr. Maldonado for their friendship with Mexico and noted that not every border leader thought the same way.
Perhaps trying to defend herself, Mrs. Brewer granted an interview with Univision, a major Spanish-language broadcaster, that was shown over the weekend. She said she was disappointed that the Mexican governors had not come to Arizona to hash out the issue of illegal immigration face to face and was hurt that she was being branded by some as a racist.
“Not only am I concerned, it’s really disappointing to me,” she told Jorge Ramos, a Univision anchor. “I’ve lived in the Southwest my whole life. I’ve got many friends, of many cultures and certainly a great deal of them are Hispanics, and I love them from the bottom of my heart. I love everybody, Jorge, from the bottom of my heart.”
Mr. Richardson said it was Arizona’s harsh immigration law, much of which has been blocked from being implemented by a federal judge, that prompted him to call the session in his state. “You can’t just throw stones at each other and pass bad laws,” he told New Mexico television.
Andrew Selee, director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, said the border governors typically dealt with nuts and bolts issues that cross national boundaries, like improving the border economy and helping adjacent states with firefighting. At last year’s session in Monterrey, Mexico, Mr. Richardson was also the only American governor present after others dropped out at the last minute because of scheduling concerns.
“The ongoing collaboration among the 10 border states is important,” said Mr. Selee, one of the experts who was to address the elected officials. “The meeting itself rises and falls in prominence.”
Monday, September 20, 2010
September 20, 2010, 2:02 PM
Posted by Angela Valenzuela at 1:49 PM