The Arizona Illegal Immigration Law: Beyond Boycotts, Brewer and the Border Patrol
One of my Faster Times posts from last week:
The internet gets so loud sometimes – especially on a topic like the controversial immigration bill in Arizona scheduled to take effect in late July. I tried ear plugs. But I could still read. I tried closing my eyes, but my typing was a mess. Then I tried another type of filter – nonpartisan reporting.
I include the Associated Press in this. You may not, but I do. And the AP – using good sources – has been doing some really good work out of Mexico City – less good out of Arizona – with direct impact on the immigration debate. So let’s take a tour of the facts, which are, of course, filtered by my own world view and preconceived notions.
How dangerous is the U.S. – Mexico border? It must be really dangerous, right?
Uh, no. From an AP story off an FBI report run by FoxNews:
It’s one of the safest parts of America, and it’s getting safer …
The top four big cities in America with the lowest rates of violent crime are all in border states: San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso and Austin, according to a new FBI report. And an in-house Customs and Border Protection report shows that Border Patrol agents face far less danger than street cops in most U.S. cities.
The study … shows 3 percent of Border Patrol agents and officers were assaulted last year, mostly when assailants threw rocks at them. That compares with 11 percent of police officers and sheriff’s deputies assaulted during the same period, usually with guns or knives.
OK, not that dangerous to be in Arizona. What about the economy? Those darn illegals must be killing the economy!
Uh, no. Another story from Fox, this one an original on FoxBusiness.com:
Putting the law and morality of illegal entry aside, several studies have shown the illegal immigrant population is more of an economic contributor to state and local economies than politicians like to tell an angry electorate. The numbers can be broken down into the fiscal cost (or gain) of illegal immigrants to states, along with the economic contribution of the population.
The most thorough study on the fiscal and economic impact of immigration was done by the non-partisan Texas Comptrollers’ Office in 2006, which showed Texas earned more in taxes and economic output from illegal immigrants than governments spent to provide services.
What is going on here? A Fox reporter wrote that? They are supposed to be putting out data by border line hate groups, like in this Fox story, which shows apocalyptic economic damage from illegal immigrants.
What is more, the FoxBusiness reporter then went and found all these business groups in Arizona that want workers from Mexico. This makes sense to me. When I covered farm country in New York, the farmers loved their Mexican workers, even if many were illegal. And only part of that was the fact that the farmers could pay them less.
To be fair, in dismissing right wing crap, I will now dismiss this story on six UN human rights experts calling the Arizona law a violation of international standards.
Left wing hippies!
OK, so Arizona has lots of company in this fight against illegal immigration, right?
Uh, no. Even as other states move to emulate it, border states could not run away faster. From the AP again, via, who else, FoxNews:
New Mexico’s governor says it is a step backward. Texas isn’t touching it. And California? Never again.
Arizona’s sweeping new law empowering police to question and arrest anyone they suspect is in the U.S. illegally is finding little support in the other states along the Mexican border.
Among the reasons given: California, New Mexico and Texas have long-established, politically powerful Hispanic communities; they have deeper cultural ties to Mexico that influence their attitudes toward immigrants; and they have little appetite for a polarizing battle over immigration like one that played out in California in the 1990s.
I think the lack of a Hispanic community is important here. Look at the Tea Party. You can never deny the impact of latent white racism. Actually, now that I think about it, this is the story. More from the AP:
Arizona didn’t draw large numbers of Hispanics until more recently, and the bonds of affection to Mexico may have been weakened by the huge influx of retirees and others from the North and the Midwest in recent decades.
“In some ways, these are people who don’t want to deal with this,” said Lisa Magana, associate professor of transborder studies at Arizona State University.
Now, to be fair, Arizona has become the capital of illegal immigration and that is not fun. Perhaps this is because the state did not want to deal with immigration while other border states came to terms with their geopolitical reality?
The AP catalogs all the supposed pressures that pushed the state to this point in a story here – the violence, the kidnappings, the huge numbers of arrests – except that the deeper stories seem to contradict all that. In fact, I could look at that as simple white fright.
I would argue that, if anything, Arizonans should be enraged over the War on Drugs, which has dragged much of Latin America down for decades and turned northern Mexico into a war zone, hindering the region from sustained economic growth, the type that would mean poor Mexicans would not have to leave home for life in, say, Iowa. From the AP, once again:
In 1970, proponents said beefed-up law enforcement could effectively seal the southern U.S. border and stop drugs from coming in. Since then, the U.S. used patrols, checkpoints, sniffer dogs, cameras, motion detectors, heat sensors, drone aircraft — and even put up more than 1,000 miles of steel beam, concrete walls and heavy mesh stretching from California to Texas.
None of that has stopped the drugs. The Office of National Drug Control Policy says about 330 tons of cocaine, 20 tons of heroin and 110 tons of methamphetamine are sold in the United States every year — almost all of it brought in across the borders