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Trump's Stance On Immigration Draws Support From Former Arizona Governor


And let's turn for now to other news. It's another big election day today in the U.S. Republicans are voting in Utah and also Arizona. So immigration is back in the spotlight. Arizona's former Republican governor, Jan Brewer, says many in her state associate illegal immigration with a rise in crime.

JAN BREWER: We have seen the heartache and the suffering that people have been exposed to because of the illegal immigration by criminals.

GREENE: When she was in office back in 2010, Brewer made stopping illegal immigration a priority. And she signed a controversial bill that required immigrants to carry federal registration papers. The Supreme Court struck down part of that law but said police could check the status of people during things like traffic stops. Donald Trump favors tough action on illegal immigration, and Governor Brewer has endorsed him.

BREWER: Mr. Trump understands the problems that America is facing in regards to all the illegal immigration. And we need our borders secured. And Donald will continue to fight for us.

GREENE: Governor, let me just ask you - the law that you signed in Arizona, one of the requirements was that people would be able to offer some sort of identification showing that they were in the country legally. Do you expect that's what Donald Trump is talking about doing?

BREWER: Well, Senate Bill 1070 that I signed just mirrored a federal law. People would, if they were stopped under reasonable suspicion - that they would have to show identification.

GREENE: Although, this law took things a bit further in requiring people to show documentation at any point.

BREWER: I mean, a drivers license, some type of identification, which is already a federal law.

GREENE: How did you find a balance between being aggressive in the way you wanted to be and avoiding racial profiling?

BREWER: First of all, racial profiling is illegal. And I don't believe that Americans believe in racial profiling. I would hope the majority that they - that they don't. Those of us that live in the Southwest have lived with all kinds of demographics. And people of Hispanic backgrounds are our neighbors. They're married into our families. They belong to our churches. And we respect that. But what we are concerned about is the rule of law. And it was upheld by the Supreme Court. And it is the federal law.

GREENE: Although, we should say, some of the most aggressive parts of that law were struck down by the court - right?

BREWER: The heart of the bill was upheld.

GREENE: Let me move on to the wall. When Donald Trump talks about building a wall along the border - I mean, there are portions of some sort of fencing security already. What - can you just give people an idea of what you think he's talking about?

BREWER: We need a border. Bottom line is, is that a country without a border is just like a house without walls. It just simply collapses.

GREENE: How do you interpret the word wall?

BREWER: I've never been asked how you describe a wall. I would assume that a wall is a solid structure that stands, you know, 6 to 10 feet tall and that runs along the border. We're facing issues in America today. And I think that, along with the economy and job creation, that immigration is right there. And it's a solid issue. Illegal immigration is illegal. And people want it to be resolved.

GREENE: A sensitive issue as well, as, I mean, I know you know better than anyone. And, you know, your state, Arizona, has a very large percentage of Latino residents and voters.

BREWER: We do.

GREENE: Do you worry that some of the language Mr. Trump has chosen could be hurtful to some of your citizens?

BREWER: I think that he's very straightforward. And he tells it like it certainly is. But it's a little broad. It - and, you know, he could tone it down a little bit. But because the federal government has failed us, people are getting angrier and angrier. They want the laws enforced.

GREENE: Donald Trump is pretty far ahead in the delegate count right now. Can you explain why sort of Republican leaders and many in the party have not yet united behind him as the front-runner?

BREWER: I don't quite understand it. All the candidates said that they were going to pledge their votes and their delegates to the winner. And Donald is winning. I believe that the insiders in the donor population simply want to control things.

GREENE: Are you worried at all that the impact of this lack of unity so far could affect the future of the party, if the party doesn't, you know, sort of rally around him?

BREWER: I do. I believe that all of this commotion and strategy planning is going to fracture our party. And the time is now for the party to come together and get behind the winner. And I believe that winner is going to be Donald Trump.

GREENE: How well do you know him, going back?

BREWER: Oh, I've known him probably going back about 6 years. And I have always found him to be very thoughtful and kind and generous and somebody that knows how to get the job done that he intends to get done.

GREENE: Some have suggested that the Donald Trump who you know behind the scenes is not the Donald Trump that we see on the campaign trail and in the media. Is that fair?

BREWER: I think that there's two sides to everyone. I think people in politics certainly - they have to talk usually in soundbites. But when you sit down and you talk to them, they carry on a long, lengthy conversation. And Donald is a listener. He just simply listens to people.

GREENE: Governor, thank you very much.

BREWER: Thank you so much, David. Bye-bye.

GREENE: That was former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. She was speaking to us from Phoenix. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.