Saying the government can't legislate with its heart, Gov. Jan Brewer said Wednesday she opposes the federal DREAM Act.
Brewer acknowledged the measure is aimed at helping children who were brought into this country illegally through no fault or action of their own volition. It is designed to provide a path to legal residency - and potentially citizenship - for those who go to college or join the military.
But the governor said she cannot support it because it amounts to a "reward (for those who) have broken the law in Arizona."
The governor, in Washington for a U.S. Supreme Court hearing on the state's "employer sanctions" law, said the fact that some of those affected were infants at the time they were brought across the border illegally doesn't change that. Nor does the fact that for many the United States is the only country they know.
"It's an unfortunate situation," Brewer said. "My heart does go out to those people. But they need to find citizenship through a legal manner."
Brewer said the United States is a "nation of laws."
"We cannot continue to sustain all of this stuff because you don't run a state, you don't run a country with your heart," the governor said. "You run it with laws."
The big hurdle for the law in the lame-duck Congress is the Senate where it takes 60 votes to avoid a filibuster. And Republicans, including Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, who had previously sponsored a version of the law, appear unwilling to deal with it in the closing days of the session.
Brewer also said she is willing to discuss enactment of "comprehensive immigration reform." But she said prior measures always have included "amnesty" for those already in the country illegally.
The governor said she is not ruling that out. But she said now is not the time.
"First, I believe everybody wants our borders secure," Brewer said. "Then we can deal with those other pressing issues."