In the speech Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) gave immediately after signing off on Arizona’s harsh new immigration law, SB-1070, she stated, “We cannot stand idly by as drop houses, kidnappings and violence compromise our quality of life.” She defended her approval of SB-1070 by pointing out, “We cannot delay while the destruction happening south of our international border creeps its way north.” However, last night on CNN, John King pointed out to Brewer that FBI statistics actually show violent crime in Arizona has decreased slightly. Brewer acknowledged that contrary to the bleak picture she has painted, overall crime in Arizona is down. However, Brewer also proceeded to blame the crime that still exists on undocumented immigrants:
KING: There are drugs coming across the border. But if you look at FBI statistics, they actually say despite these awful things that violent crime is essentially at a flat rate, even down a little bit. And some would say that, yes, you know, there have been some horrible incidents, but in total, crime’s actually down. There’s not a need for this.
BREWER: In regards to illegal immigration crime or to what kind of crime? Crime is down in Arizona. The fact of the matter is, if you’re living in Arizona and you are living in the areas that are severely impacted, you are faced with it on a daily basis. And we’re not going to put up with it anymore. We have borders. Every nation has reasons to have lines, borders, might you say, you know? And a nation without borders is like a house without walls. It collapses. And that’s what’s going to happen to America. We need our borders secured.
The FBI Uniform Crime Reports and statistics that King cited 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.” More specifically, crime rates in Arizona border towns have remained flat over the past decade. Arizona border Sheriff Clarence Dupnik of Pima County, has stated, “This is a media-created event…I hear politicians on TV saying the border has gotten worse. Well, the fact of the matter is that the border has never been more secure.”
FBI statistics also show that crime is declining in U.S. border towns across the U.S. Meanwhile, 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.”
Perhaps the reason that Brewer feels that “illegal immigration crime” is up is because Arizona law allows the prosecution of undocumented immigrants on felony charges for being “co-conspirators” in their own smuggling. If found guilty of smuggling themselves over the border, those immigrants are then jailed for 90 days at the taxpayer’s expense rather than being immediately deported back to their home country.
During her interview, Brewer also affirmed that she is not worried about Arizona’s image. She also made clear that visitors from several neighboring states that grant undocumented immigrants drivers’ licenses better pack a proof of legal residency when visiting Arizona. “It wouldn’t matter whether you were Latino or Hispanic or Norwegian…If you didn’t have proof of citizenship and if the police officer had reasonable suspicion, he would ask and verify your citizenship.”