White House denies senator’s accusation of stalling border security


— The White House on Monday rejected comments by a Republican senator
that border security was being held “hostage” to a political drive to
achieve overall immigration reform.

At a briefing, White House spokesman Bill Burton denounced comments by Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, who told Tea Party supporters that President Barack Obama in a private conversation told him that securing the border would make it more difficult to pass overall immigration reform.

“The problem is,” Kyl told the town hall-style meeting in Tempe, Ariz.,
according to video recording of the session, “if we secure the border,
then you all won’t have any reason to support comprehensive immigration
reform. In other words, they’re holding it hostage. They don’t want to
secure the border unless and until it is combined with comprehensive
immigration reform.”

Burton on Monday said the senator’s comments at the Tea Party event were “untrue.”

“No, the president didn’t say that,” Burton said, using language similar to that used earlier by White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer. “Kyl knows that the president didn’t say that.”

Questioned about whether the White House believed
Kyl was deliberately lying about what happened in his conversation with
Obama, Burton insisted that Kyl’s comments were untrue. Burton said
there was no transcript of the president’s one-on-one meeting with Kyl
in the Oval Office.

A spokesman for Kyl was not immediately available
for comment. But Kyl’s office earlier stood by the senator’s account,
with spokesman Ryan Patmintra telling Fox News: “There were two people
in that meeting, and Dan Pfeiffer was not one of them.”

At the heart of the dispute is the fate of immigration reform in this congressional session and Arizona’s tougher law, which allows authorities to the check identities and papers of those believed to be illegal immigrants.

Obama has criticized the law, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this month told Ecuador
television that the U.S. government planned to sue to overturn the act.
On Monday, Burton insisted no decision has been made and that the
question of a federal suit remained under review.

Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed the law on April 23, has criticized Clinton and the federal government over their threats to block the law, which doesn’t go into effect until July 29.

Brewer met with the president this month to discuss
the law, but there was little movement in both said was a cordial
meeting. Obama has pledged to send up to 1,200 National Guard troops to
the U.S.-Mexico border to deal with security issues.


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