In a previous post, we caught Arizona governor Jan Brewer lying repeatedly about the anti-immigrant law she had just signed. She kept saying that “under SB 1070 there must first be reasonable suspicion that you are breaking some OTHER non-immigration law before an officer can ask a person about their legal status.” But if you read the law itself it says nothing of the kind, and even the non-partisan PolitiFact rated that claim as false.
Now she is doing it again, except that this time she isn’t even hiding her blatant racism. During a recent debate of Republican gubernatorial candidates, Brewer claimed that most illegal immigrants coming over the border are smuggling drugs. Of course, there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim. When a reporter asked her yesterday about it, Brewer replied:
Well, we all know that the majority of the people that are coming to Arizona and trespassing are now becoming drug mules. They’re coming across our borders in huge numbers. The drug cartels have taken control of the immigration. So they are criminals. They’re breaking the law when they are trespassing and they’re criminals when they pack the marijuana and the drugs on their backs.
When someone is asked for facts and they respond with vague statements like “we all know” it is pretty clear that they are lying. In fact, her claim was disputed by actual border patrol agents and staff. T.J. Bonner of the National Border Patrol Council said that Brewer’s comments don’t “comport with reality — that’s the nicest way to put it.”
It is pretty clear that Brewer is using the age-old political tactic of stirring up fear and hatred against a group in order to win votes. The truth simply doesn’t matter to her.
And the truth is that the US side of the border with Mexico is one of the lowest-crime areas in the country. According to the FBI, the top four big cities in America with the lowest rates of violent crime are San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso, and Austin, all of which are border cities with large Hispanic populations (including illegal immigrants). San Diego alone, where one out of four residents is an immigrant, has the lowest number of violent crimes per capita in the nation for a big city. But that doesn’t stop politicians like Brewer from claiming that their region is under siege.
Interestingly, being a border patrol agent is one of the safest jobs in law enforcement in the nation. According to a government study on border protection, 3 percent of border patrol agents were assaulted last year, and in the majority of those cases they had rocks, bottles, or sticks thrown at them. This compares to 11 percent of police officers and sheriff’s deputies assaulted nationwide, usually with guns or knives.
Yes, this country has a problem with illegal immigration. But stirring up fear and hatred isn’t going to help. And neither is lying.