Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law Friday what many are calling the broadest, strictest state immigration law in decades.

In a statement about her decision to sign the controversial state Senate Bill 1070, Brewer said, “I’ve decided to sign Senate Bill 1070 into law because, though many people disagree, I firmly believe it represents what’s best for Arizona. Border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues to the people of our state, to my Administration and to me, as your Governor and as a citizen.

“There is no higher priority than protecting the citizens of Arizona. We cannot sacrifice our safety to the murderous greed of drug cartels. We cannot stand idly by as drop houses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life. We cannot delay while the destruction happening south of our international border creeps its way north.”

A tragic example of that reality came with the murder of Arizona rancher Rob Krentz March 27 (see Stocker Trends, April 13). Krentz and his dog were shot and killed, apparently by illegal aliens, while Krentz was checking fence and water on the family’s ranch.

“We hold no malice towards the Mexican people for this senseless act but do hold the political forces in this country and Mexico accountable for what has happened,” said the Krentz family in a statement. “Their disregard of our repeated pleas and warnings of impending violence towards our community fell on deaf ears shrouded in political correctness. As a result, we have paid the ultimate price for their negligence in credibly securing our Borderlands. In honor of everything Rob stood for, we ask everyone to work peacefully towards bringing credible law and order to our Border and provide Border Patrol and County Law Enforcement with sufficient financial resources and manpower to stop this invasion of our country. We urge the President of the United States to step forward and immediately order deployment of the active U.S. military to the Arizona, New Mexico Border.”

“We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act. But decades of federal inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation,” Brewer said.

In part, the new law helps law enforcement officials find, prosecute and deport illegal aliens.

It also promises to be a flashpoint for the simmering national debate over immigration reform. Before Brewer signed the law, proponents on both sides of the debate were lobbing rhetoric at one another. Before the governor’s signature was dry, President Obama decried the new law.

So, immigration reform as well as the debate over state rights promises to gain lots more attention this summer. In the meantime, border states are working to assume the federal government’s obligation to ensure national defense along the nation’s southern border.

A day before signing the new law, Governor Brewer announced an enhanced border security plan, saying, “The federal government has failed in its obligation and moral responsibility to secure our border. A government’s principle responsibility to its citizens is to provide safety and security. States have never been expected, even in prosperous economic times, to sustain the national defense of our borders. With the resources we have today, I am doing everything within my power to ensure and promote safety for our citizens along our southern border.”