The Arizona fires and the conspiracy of silence - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

The Arizona fires and the conspiracy of silence

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Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Email Joe at

Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2011 3:45 am | Updated: 5:40 pm, Thu Jun 23, 2011.

When it comes to illegal immigration, President Obama's policy is clear: If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all.

Rather than having a meaningful national discussion about how over-immigration costs American workers jobs, crowds schools, and strains local and state budgets, the White House offers nebulous, unsupported banalities like "we are a nation of immigrants" or "immigration is the lifeblood of our economy."

Given Obama's illegal immigration avoidance policy, his failure to so much as hint that aliens may have played a role in the southern Arizona wildfires comes as no surprise. Mexican cartels have carved out the territory surrounding the raging Horseshoe 2 Fire northeast of Douglas and the Murphy Complex Fire northwest of Nogales as human and drug trafficking corridors.

The fires' causes are officially under investigation, although little progress has been made. They may have been started by lightning although no strikes have been reported. Careless campers may be at fault - but the Coronado National Forest had been closed since June 9, three days before the fires started.

The ecological damage caused by the fires is immeasurable. To date, the Horseshoe 2 Fire has burned 128,652 acres in the Chiricahua Mountains including three homes and six buildings. The Murphy Complex Fire has destroyed 68,033 acres including the historic Atascosa Lookout. Both rank among the top 10 largest wildfires in Arizona in more than two decades. An additional 1,560 acres within Mexico have been lost.

Clues point to illegal alien participation - either accidentally or in an effort to distract pursuing border patrol agents - yet no one wants to include that among the possibilities. Investigators, who do not focus on the immigration status of those who start fires, will only acknowledge that humans are the probable cause.

Arizona Daily Star reporter Brady McCombs tried to learn more. McCombs approached a Northern Arizona University Forestry School fire ecologist to ask if any research had been or would be done to discover what the role of illegal aliens might have been. The answer was "no."

And at a meeting of concerned citizens earlier this week in Sierra Vista, Kym Hall, Coronado National Memorial superintendent, said in response to the same question about possible illegal immigrant involvement that it would be "difficult" to answer.

In view of the wall of silence surrounding the blazes, credit must be given to Sen. John McCain who thinks the fires were set by aliens to divert law enforcement, to send signals to other smugglers or simply to stay warm. McCain, as reported by CNN, said "We are concerned about, particularly, areas down on the border where there is substantial evidence that some of these fires are caused by people who have crossed our border illegally. The answer to that part of the problem is to get a secure border."

Therein lies the rub. President Obama has repeatedly insisted that the border is secure and that, accordingly, the nation can get about the business of granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. In May, speaking from El Paso, Obama boldly declared the border more secure than ever.

If an in-depth federal investigation confirmed illegal alien involvement, that would be counter-productive to Obama's secure border agenda. That's why we're unlikely to ever know much more about the fires than we do today.

Joe Guzzardi is a syndicated columnist and a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). He can be reached at

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