May 12, 2010

Have you noticed how the people who defend Arizona's new police-state immigration law constantly conflate the issue of illegal immigration with drug-related violence?

Indeed, the entire rationale we're hearing from Arizonans for why they passed this law points to incidents and issues arising not from illegal immigration, but from the activities of Mexican drug cartels along the border.

It happened again yesterday on Your World with Neil Cavuto on Fox News. Cavuto hosted two Arizonans eager to defend their state's honor from the threat of boycotts -- Phoenix city councilman Sal DiCiccio, and Barry Broome from the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. Broome, it's worth noting, was threatening retaliation if people organize boycotts against Arizona. (Ooooooh. We're quaking, dude.)

But it was DiCiccio -- predictably, a right-wing Republican -- who conflated drug-war problems with immigration issues:

DiCiccio: You know, if you look at what's happening in the state of Arizona -- I really want to talk about this, this is more a plea to the national audience -- they need to take a look at what's happening in our state. In the city of Phoenix alone, the area that I control along with the other members of the council and the mayor, but we have a responsibility to protect our citizenry. We had over 350 kidnappings in the city of Phoenix alone, primarily due to the illegal immigrant trade.

But, while human smugglers have been part of Phoenix's kidnapping scene, according to Phoenix police, the vast majority of these kidnappings have been related to Mexican drug cartels. Illegal immigrants, as the L.A. Times story explains, often are drawn into kidnapping work on behalf of the cartels -- but the violence is a result of their employer's line of work, not the fact that they are immigrants.

As we noted previously, much of the hysteria that was whipped up to push this bill through was based on the murder of Arizona rancher Robert Krentz, who was in fact almost certainly slain by a scout for the drug cartels.

Nonetheless, the Right -- embodied by Fox News -- consistently described his killer as an "illegal immigrant" -- even though the man was not crossing the border to emigrate, but to enable drug crossings on the border.

In other words, the Krentz case was not about illegal immigration, but drug smuggling across the border. The issues, as we've seen are not entirely separate: the cartels and human smugglers work hand in glove to control the trails over the border.

But the power and violence of Mexican drug cartels is not related to illegal immigration. It is related to our misbegotten drug laws, and the fact that the Mexican government is in an ongoing war getting control of heavily armed thugs who obtain their money and weapons through the sale of illicit drugs, largely to American consumers.

If Arizonans were serious about dealing with the crime wave they're seeing, they'd be pushing for marijuana-decriminalization laws, or some other more sane approach that actually tackles the core of the problem.

Instead, they're passing laws that try to tackle drug-war problems by attacking illegal immigrants, who represent a tertiary scapegoat at best. In the process, they're turning Arizona into a police state for Latinos, citizens and immigrants alike, who now must carry "their papers" proving their citizenship with them at all times, or run the risk of being swept up in a Kafkaesque law-enforcement nightmare.

Performances like DiCiccio's and Moore's do little to dissuade people that something is amiss in Arizona. Indeed, they just give us all the more reason to boycott them.

Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.