Today, the Arizona Republic’s E.J. Montini reported that Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) erroneously claimed that the majority of undocumented immigrants “are coming here and they’re bringing drugs” during a primary election debate on June 15th. Brewer’s remarks were in response to Matt Jette, one of the other candidates, who pointed out that most undocumented immigrant come to the U.S. just to work:
JETTE: You act as if the state of Arizona is being terrorized by illegal immigrants. It’s simply not the case. Crime is on the way down. The bottom line with SB-1070 is who can be more extreme with the bill. […] These people, a lot of them, are just trying to feed their family. They just want to work. Isn’t that a Republican mantra?
BREWER: We are a nation of laws. And they are coming across our border illegally. And the majority of them 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, Matt. That is the truth.
Watch it (starting at 37:15):
Recently released FBI crime statistics show Jette is right. Despite an increase in illegal immigration, “Arizona is in the midst of a years-long decline in violent crime that pre-dates SB 1070.” Over a century of research shows that immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes than their U.S.-born counter-parts. In fact, when Tim Wadsworth, a professor of sociology at the University of Colorado, studied U.S. cities with more than 50,000 people he found that “the cities that experience the greatest growth in immigration were the same one that were experiencing the greatest declines in violent crime.”
Brewer’s office would not respond to Montini’s calls requesting an explanation for her fallacious statements. During the debate, however, her opponent hit the nail on the head:
JETTE: If you want an option, you need a comprehensive immigration reform. The problem isn’t that you don’t get it. The problem is you can’t sell it. […] And obviously the state of Arizona is lacking in one thing: leadership.
Brewer also stated that she believes the law is good for Republicans and accuses “organized organizations” of misconstruing the law. She’s not concerned about the economic effect of the law because it’s still not clear whether the people leaving are “illegal or un-legal.” All of the other Republican gubernatorial candidates besides Jette blamed Brewer for not signing a law like SB-1070 sooner.