June 4, 2010

Last month, Governor Jan Brewer sparked national controversy by signing Arizona's new "papers please" immigration bill into law. Her justification has been that Arizona's border has supposedly been "overrun" with violent crime. Turns out crime in Arizona is down and border security is way up, so the "secure the border" mantra being parroted by Brewer and her friends at FOX has much more to do with empty election-year rhetoric than reality. Even Arizona cops can tell you that.

Well, yesterday Governor Brewer was in Washington, DC to meet with President Obama, and hundreds of picketers took to the streets in front of the White House to say "no" to what is happening in Arizona and "yes" to real, federal immigration reform that actually gets to the heart of solving our immigration crisis -- not exploiting it.

Watch video of one protester -- a woman holding a banner that reads, "We Are All Arizona:"

She argues, "SB 1070 is unacceptable. It puts racial profiling into law."

Well, FOX host Megyn Kelly had NCLR's Clarissa Martinez on to discuss Arizona, and she couldn't agree less (see footage of the picket at the beginning of the clip):

You can see Kelly getting a bit worked up at the end, after Martinez holds her own against the host's one-sided questions and bullying. Not surprisingly, FOX forgot to mention that the Arizona law, with it's false "secure the border" mantra, has become the Gulf Coast oil spill of the immigration debate -- it must be plugged immediately before it wreaks more havoc.

Edward Alden of the Wall Street Journal argues that we have yet to have a rational argument about securing the border, given the major increase in spending on border security in the past few years. The Immigration Policy Center notes, the annual budget of the U.S. Border Patrol stood at $3.0 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 - nine times the FY 1992 budget. The number of Border Patrol agents stationed along the southwest border with Mexico grew to a whopping 16,974 in FY 2009 - nine times the number in 1992.

Finally, as this chart shows, spending by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) skyrocketed from almost $7.5 billion in 2002 to over $17 billion in 2010. 

What has all this spending on the border gotten us? Mostly, more demands to "secure the border--" with billions of taxpayer dollars and no attempt to deal with the real issues of supply and demand for immigrant labor.

Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change, released this statement after today's picket:

Border hawks like Jan Brewer will never be satisfied. Already, everything that has been done to win over the border-security-first critics has had dire consequences in immigrant communities and made scapegoats of hardworking immigrants, without satisfying the critics' insatiable demands.

It's time for the scapegoating to end and to pass real immigration reform. As the picketers chanted, "Governor Brewer, shame on you. Immigrants are people, too:"

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