The immigration debate in Arizona, already heated, somehow keeps getting more inflamed.
Gov. Jan Brewer’s remarks on Friday that most illegal immigrants entering Arizona are transporting drugs across the border are irresponsible and do nothing but fuel the bigotry that some people feel toward Hispanics.
Brewer insists there’s “strong information” to support her claim, but has yet to produce any data to back that up.
“Unless Gov. Brewer can provide hard data to substantiate her claim that most undocumented people crossing into Arizona are ‘drug mules,’ she must retract such an outrageous statement,” Oscar Martinez, a University of Arizona history professor whose teaching and research focuses on border issues, told the Associated Press. “If she has no data and is just mouthing off for political reasons, as I believe she is doing, then she must apologize to the people of Arizona for lying to them so blatantly.”
A study in 2007 by the University of Arizona Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy found that “most immigrants who come to the United States illegally – especially those from less-developed nations – do so because U.S. employers hire them at wages substantially higher than they could earn in their native countries.”
But Brewer claims the majority of those people end up getting ensnared by drug cartels and used to transport drugs.
There are certainly some cases of that happening, but to suggest a majority of illegal immigrants fit that profile seems farfetched.
Brewer’s ill-advised comments won’t sway public opinion in favor of Arizona’s new immigration law. Most people are already in favor of the new legislation.
In an election year, her remarks simply come across as pandering to the state’s strong right-wing voter contingent that is clamoring for something to be done about illegal immigration.
The ink is not yet dry on the new immigration law, but Sen. Russell Pearce — the author of that bill — is also doing his best to escalate the debate.
He has renewed his attempts to deny U.S. citizenship to children born in this country to undocumented parents — a clear violation of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to anyone born in the U.S.
As cities across the country (and now the entire state of California) continue efforts to boycott Arizona in protest of the new law, the actions of Brewer and Pearce only exacerbate the situation and add to the economic difficulties the state is facing.
Brewer and Pearce are right about one thing: Something must be done about illegal immigration.
But instead of fanning the flames and further tarnishing Arizona’s image, let’s focus on the problem at hand.