This weekend, Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) lashed out at President Obama for employing dark humor when joking about new Arizona immigration law SB-1070 at last week’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. In his comedic speech, Obama stated, “We all know what happens in Arizona when you don’t have ID — adios amigos!” Brewer, apparently, did not find Obama’s comments very funny.
Brewer has repeatedly cited drug related border violence to justify signing off on the likely unconstitutional SB-1070. “The drug trafficking and border violence is out of control in Arizona and demands serious attention,” said Jan Brewer for Governor campaign spokesman Doug Cole in a statement released this weekend. “Mr. President, this is not a laughing matter.” In a video released by her campaign, Brewer outlines a variety of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants that she characterizes as plaguing Arizona in the past year.
Brewer has a right to be unamused by Obama poking fun at the absurdity of her state’s new immigration law, but her self-righteous attack doesn’t add up. FBI Uniform Crime Reports and statistics show that “while the nation’s illegal-immigrant population doubled from 1994 to 2004, according to federal records…the violent-crime rate declined 35 percent.” If anything, “cartel operatives pass through border communities as quickly as possible, avoiding conflicts and attention.” The Arizona Republic reports that crime rates in Arizona border towns “have remained essentially flat for the past decade, even as drug-related violence has spiraled out of control on the other side of the international line.” “While smugglers have become more aggressive in their encounters with authorities, as evidenced by the shooting of a Pinal County deputy on Friday, allegedly by illegal-immigrant drug runners, they do not routinely target residents of border towns,” the investigative report concludes.
It’s curious that Brewer still chose to release her video even after the Arizona Republic’s widely disseminated article was published. However, some Arizonans aren’t fooled as to what her motives are. Leo Federico, a retired teacher, told the Arizona Republic, “That’s politics…It’s all about votes.” Yet while Brewer courts immigration hardliners, Latinos are overwhelmingly flocking to her opponent, State Attorney General Terry Goddard (D) — who is now leading in the polls.
Brewer also hits Obama on federal inaction on immigration. Yesterday on Al Punto with Jorge Ramos, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) responded to similar criticisms, stating, “it’s illogical to hear the state of Arizona complaining about the federal government not doing anything and the two Republican senators from Arizona [Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl] won’t join with us to do anything.” On her campaign website, Brewer also doesn’t cite a single commitment to working with the federal government to solve the problem comprehensively by enacting immigration reform.
Opponents of Arizona’s law meanwhile claim that SB-1070 will make the state less safe by forcing police to prioritize immigration enforcement over violent crimes, draining strained financial and manpower resources, exacerbating civil rights violations, and fueling costly lawsuits.