On Thursday's Early Show, correspondent John Blackstone reported on a federal judge blocking several provisions in Arizona's new immigration law: "The judge's ruling seemed to answer the prayers of many in Arizona's immigrant communities." Footage of two women crying and praying at a protest against the law followed his declaration.
Blackstone began his report by noting that protestors "are already beginning to gather for more protests today against Arizona's new law. They know that even with the court ruling yesterday...there will be an appeal, that their battle is not over." During the segment, the headline on screen read: "Border Battle; Judge Blocks Part of Controversial Immigration Law."
Continuing to highlight opposition to the law, Blackstone focused one woman: "Waitress Yessica Perez is a U.S. citizen, but she feared the law would make her a target for police." He then inaccurately claimed that the law "would have required police to check the immigration status of virtually anyone they suspected of being here illegally." Blackstone never explained that police could only question someone's status after stopping them for a legal violation. Meanwhile, a clip was played of Perez fretting: "I heard of people that they didn't want to go out, just grocery shopping. They were worried they were going to be pulled over just because – because of this law."
After describing the details of the ruling of U.S. Judge Susan Bolton, who he never mentioned was appointed by President Clinton, Blackstone noted objections from supporters of the law. A clip was played of the law's author, State Senator Russell Pierce: "We will prevail and we'll go to the Supreme Court and we'll win a decision there, I guarantee." Blackstone also pointed to how "Sheriff Joe Arpaio, says he'll continue to arrest illegal immigrants and issued a sharp warning for those threatening a sit-in at his jail today."
Following Blackstone's report, co-host Harry Smith interviewed Democratic New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Republican California Congressman Darrell Issa about the decision. Smith mostly just provided equal time for both politicians give their opinions. However, he offered no challenge after Richardson declared: "...it's a correct decision because what the judge said was that Arizona law was interfering into federal responsibility. The potential for racially profiling, the harming American interests abroad, our foreign policy." Smith didn't ask why enforcing immigration law would harm American foreign policy.
While not challenging Richardson, Smith did play Devil's advocate at one point: "Governor, let me ask you this, the judge basically said the methods of this law were wrong. Was the motivation of the law correct?" The Governor acknowledged: "Well, I can understand the frustration of many residents, Arizona, New Mexico, and the border....there is some sympathy for, I think, many other states, many Americans that want to see a comprehensive effort that includes border security."
Here is a full transcript of the segment:
ERICA HILL: Immigration battle. Arizona's tough new law in effect this morning, but only after a judge blocks its most controversial measures. We'll hear from both sides of this heated debate.
HARRY SMITH: We want to start with Arizona's controversial new immigration law, which went into effect just after midnight, but without some of its most controversial provisions. On Wednesday, a federal judge blocked the law's toughest requirements. CBS News correspondent John Blackstone is in Phoenix and he has the latest. John, good morning.
JOHN BLACKSTONE: Good morning, Harry. Well, demonstrators are already beginning to gather for more protests today against Arizona's new law. They know that even with the court ruling yesterday, setting aside parts of this law, there will be an appeal, that their battle is not over.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Border Battle; Judge Blocks Part of Controversial Immigration Law]
The judge's ruling seemed to answer the prayers of many in Arizona's immigrant communities.
[FOOTAGE OF WOMEN CRYING AND PRAYING]
Waitress Yessica Perez is a U.S. citizen, but she feared the law would make her a target for police. The law would have required police to check the immigration status of virtually anyone they suspected of being here illegally.
YESSICA PEREZ: I heard of people that they didn't want to go out, just grocery shopping. They were worried they were going to be pulled over just because – because of this law.
BLACKSTONE: U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton blocked key provisions in the law, including requirements that police determine the status of people they believe are in the country illegally, that immigrants always carry their papers. It also blocked the section that makes it illegal for undocumented workers to solicit work in public places.
[PROTESTORS CHANTING 'SI SE PUEDE']
The possible impact of the law on citizens and legal immigrants is one reason for the judge's decision. But the state senator who wrote the law says the temporary injunction is just a small setback.
RUSSELL PIERCE: We will prevail and we'll go to the Supreme Court and we'll win a decision there, I guarantee.
BLACKSTONE: One of the biggest supporters of the law, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, says he'll continue to arrest illegal immigrants and issued a sharp warning for those threatening a sit-in at his jail today.
JOE ARPAIO: I am not going to have my jails held hostage. You don't do that. You don't surrender.
BLACKSTONE: So, both sides are digging in for a continued heated debate over illegal immigration here in Arizona. Harry.
SMITH: John Blackstone in Phoenix this morning, thank you. Now let's get reaction from both sides, New Mexico Democratic Governor Bill Richardson is in Santa Fe this morning and California Republican Congressman Darrell Issa on Capitol Hill. Gentlemen, good morning.
DARRELL ISSA: Good morning, Harry.
BILL RICHARDSON: Good morning, Harry.
SMITH: Governor, let me start with you. What do you make of this decision?
RICHARDSON: Well, it's a temporary victory, but it's a correct decision because what the judge said was that Arizona law was interfering into federal responsibility. The potential for racially profiling, the harming American interests abroad, our foreign policy. And what I see is a protracted fight that'll go all the way to the Supreme Court. It's become a hot-button issue, this immigration issue, for the election. And finally, it basically sends a message that states should respect federal law, that what we need more than anything is comprehensive immigration reform, clamping down on those that hire illegals. Secondly, a path to legalization. And third, dramatically more border security in states like mine and Arizona, that desperately need it because-
SMITH: Even as we speak-
RICHARDSON: -of so many drug traffic-
SMITH: Right, there are 1,200 national guardmen headed to the border of Arizona even as we speak. Let me get the Congressman in on this. As the Governor just suggested, though, what is the likelihood that the Obama administration is going to really truly embrace the things that the Governor just talked about?
DARRELL ISSA: Well, the Governor, quite candidly, might do a good job in many areas, but he, like every border governor, and myself as a border Congressman, deals with the fact that the federal government hasn't done its job. This was a wake-up call that states wanted to see something done about it. You know, in many ways this is like prohibition. We had this law, no alcohol, and yet crime of all sorts was breaking out over the failure to enforce this. Now, unlike prohibition, we can enforce the border. We can enforce our work site responsibility, that people be here legally. But right now there's been no will by president after president to properly enforce the border or to enter in comprehensive immigration reform without this – this artificial, 'you've got to forgive all those who came here illegally and make them citizen-eligible.' We can reach a compromise. Right now President Obama needs to come off of amnesty and come to the table. We'll meet him halfway if he'll meet us part of the way by giving up on the idea that people who came here illegally must have a pathway to citizenship in order to start the discussion.
SMITH: Governor, let me ask you this, the judge basically said the methods of this law were wrong. Was the motivation of the law correct?
RICHARDSON: Well, I can understand the frustration of many residents, Arizona, New Mexico, and the border, the Congressman's area. Look, the federal government – but I put the blame on the Congress. They have not dealt with comprehensive immigration reform. So there is some sympathy for, I think, many other states, many Americans that want to see a comprehensive effort that includes border security. But I have to differ with the Congressman. What the President and others have proposed is not amnesty. Actually, it's accountability for the 11 million that are here. They have to learn English, they have to pass a background check, they have to get to the back of the line behind those that are trying to get here legally. So, we're not talking about citizenship and a pardon. We're talking about a long process that allows a path to legalization. What's the alternative, Harry?
SMITH: Congressman – Congressman Issa-
RICHARDSON: Are you going to deport the 11 million?
SMITH: I hear you. Congressman, go ahead and respond.
ISSA: They – you know, the Governor is unfortunately missing the point. The back of the line 5 and a half billion people that would like to come to America. So, it's very clear, if you go to the back of the line you're never going get to the front of the line. Republicans are willing to look at guest worker programs that would include people who have skills, who have jobs here in America or could have jobs here in America. No question at all. But the President is failing to see the real point. Congress can only pass laws. Quite frankly, Governor, we passed those laws, including e-verify and others, and people like you are choosing not to cooperate and help enforce them. And president after president have failed to enforce them. We only have the power to pass laws. We don't have the power to force the executive branch to obey those laws.
SMITH: Congressman, Governor, for the moment, that's all we have time for.
ISSA: Thanks, Harry.
SMITH: This conversation will continue, we're sure. Thank you both for taking the time to speak with us.
RICHARDSON: Thank you.