By BARRY MASSEY Associated Press Writer
SANTA FE, N.M. — U.S. and Mexican border governors will gather in New Mexico in late September, but Gov. Bill Richardson said Wednesday it's not a protest over the event's cancellation in Arizona because of that state's immigration enforcement law.
Richardson announced that the rescheduled meeting will be held Sept. 19-20 and will focus on border security, economic development and energy. The governor said earlier this month the event would be held in New Mexico, but the dates had not been decided.
"There has never been a greater necessity for dialogue on border issues, not only among border states, but also with our respective federal governments," Richardson said in a letter inviting the governors of six Mexican states — Coahuila, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, Sonora, Tamaulipas and Baja California.
Richardson and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will co-host the event in Santa Fe. The governors of Arizona and Texas have said they will not attend.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, called off the meeting in Phoenix after the Mexican governors planned to boycott it because of Arizona's new immigration law.
"It is not our intention to have this meeting as a boycott or protest of the cancellation," Richardson said, "rather we see it is as a diplomatic effort" to ensure the work of the border governor will continue until next year's meeting in Baja California.
The Arizona law requires police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person's immigration status if officers have a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the country illegally
The U.S. ambassador to Mexico and the Mexican ambassador to the U.S. have been invited to the governors' meeting along with representatives from several Mexican and U.S. agencies, including the Justice, State and Homeland Security departments, Richardson said.
"As border governors, we see the impact of border issues like security, economic development and health issues every day," Richardson said. "While we may not always agree on every issue, as leaders of the U.S.-Mexico border region we must maintain a strong dialogue to help assure cooperation along the border, resolve regional border issues and make sure bi-national issues are given proper attention by our federal governments."