Mouth of the Border
Never let facts get in the way of a good immigration scare.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Arizona, apparently, is a hellhole.
Just listen to the state’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer: “Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert either buried or just lying out there that have been beheaded.”
Whoa! Gruesome! And this never-ending parade of carnage and death in the Grand Canyon State is apparently only getting worse:
“And the majority of [undocumented immigrants], in my opinion, and I think in the opinion of law enforcement, is that they are not coming here to work. They are coming here and they’re bringing drugs. And they’re doing drop houses and they’re extorting people and they’re terrorizing the families. That is the truth.”
Wow. What a nightmare! Sen. John McCain says the violence in his state is “the worst I’ve ever seen.” At a committee hearing, McCain painted the direst picture: “The violence along our southern border is increasing and impeding everyday life and the peace of mind of our citizens in the border region. Some believe that they are living in a lawless land where there is little or no consequence for the violation of their land, property and well-being.”
Mike Huckabee could only sadly concur, “They’re the No. 1 kidnapping capital in the world. They’ve seen people murdered who were simply trying to take care of their farms and families.” Wow! Arizona is the No. 1 kidnapping capital in the world? Really? Leading Baghdad, Mogadishu and Mexico City?
No, of course not. The (genuinely) nonpartisan fact checkers at PolitiFact followed up with Scott Stewart, the vice president of tactical intelligence for Stratfor, a global intelligence company, who stated the obvious: “[T]here are significantly more kidnappings in many other cities throughout Latin America. San Salvador, Guatemala City, Bogota as well as several cities in Mexico certainly have higher kidnapping rates than Phoenix.”
What about Brewer’s claim that the “majority” of undocumented immigrants aren’t coming to find honest work, but to engage in the drug trade? A University of Colorado sociologist found that between 1990 and 2000, “The cities that experienced the greatest growth in immigration were the same ones that were experiencing the greatest declines in violent crime.” Could it be that immigrants actually help lower the crime rate? In fact, according to the FBI, the four big cities with the lowest crime rates in the entire country are all border-state cities – Phoenix, San Diego, El Paso and Austin.
“COULD IT BE IMMIGRANTS ACTUALLY HELP LOWER THE CRIME RATE?”
And what about McCain’s alarmist rhetoric about border violence being the worst he’s ever seen it? FBI figures show that the total number of violent crimes in Phoenix has fallen every year since 2006 – from a high of 11,195 in 2006, to 8,730 in 2009. The numbers are similar in Tucson and Mesa.
“Arizona’s falling crime rates, together with a century’s worth of evidence indicating that immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes than the native-born, cast serious doubt on the claims of some SB 1070 supporters that the law is in any way a useful crime-fighting tool,” concluded the Immigration Policy Center.
In fact, The Arizona Republic reported in May that the border violence canard was just the latest conservative-fueled myth: “In 2000, there were 23 rapes, robberies and murders in Nogales, Ariz. Last year, despite nearly a decade of population growth, there were 19 such crimes. Aggravated assaults dropped by one-third. No one has been murdered in two years.”
But forget reality, ignore the figures and embrace the conservative opinion of Arizona: If you visit the state, you will die. Who needs to boycott Arizona for its regressive racist law when Republicans are doing a great job of scaring people away?