I received an email from a friend, or perhaps a lost friend, over my most recent post. I urge you to read it in full because it represents a viewpoint widely held by suburban Anglos. Here it is:
Jon: check your facts. Russell Pearce was the sponsor of SB 1070. Most of the text for SB 1070 was written by Kris Kobach, a law professor and important figurehead with the Federation of American Immigration Reform. Russell Pearce was not voted out of office by the Mormons. He was voted out of office by the Hispanics who know he sponsored SB 1070. SB 1070 was written after James Krentz, a rancher in southern Arizona was killed on his own ranch by illegals.
All of the Arizonans I know are not against immigration. They are against illegal immigration. Big difference. As you know I grew up in South America, specifically Venezuela, Brazil, and Argentina. I did not come back to the States until I was a teenager and I can report first hand that immigration laws in all of the other countries I have been in are very tough compared to the U.S.
The email continues:
While we lived in South America, no matter which country, we had to leave for 30 days each year, or declare citizenship. Illegal entry always meant jail time. Mexico has a 2 year prison term for illegal aliens for a first offense. Second offense is 10 year mandatory prison term. The U.S. is the most lax nation in the world when it comes to illegals entering this country. Forty years ago, most of the illegals were poor Mexicans just wanting to make a buck on ranches and farms. Today, is a totally different story. My brother-in-law lives an 1/8 mile from the corridor used by the illegals who are transporting drugs with backpacks and trucks. Many are armed. Not only do the Mexican’s come through, but so do illegals from the middle east. Phoenix is the kidnapping capital of the United States. More Americans are kidnapped out of here than any other city in the U.S. Americans, specifically Arizonans, have a right to expect protection. I have nothing against Mexicans or anyone of Hispanic descent. Why would I? I grew up in the culture, and I speak the language.
It is far more dangerous to live here than it was 10, 20, 30, or 40 years ago. Look SB 1070 up on the internet and read it. I did. Most other nations also have laws on how long a person can work in their country. In most south American countries, the limit is for 7 years. After that you must become a citizen or leave. And you are required to leave for 30 days each year until your 7 years is up or you request citizenship. Those were the laws when I was a child. My family lived outside of the U.S. most of my life, residing in other countries such as Canada, New Zealand and Australia after I became an adult. I have traveled to many countries where family was residing over the years. Believe me they all have stricter immigration laws than we do. They also have strict VISA regulations. Try staying in France once your VISA expires. BIG trouble!!!!!!!!
You taught me a valuable lesson about journalism-fact checking is not required and spewing lies is perfectly acceptable. kookeracy belongs in your corner on this article. I don’t read your columns all the time, but this one was so far out of line it made me ill.
I don’t care whether any one knows my identity or not. What I cared about was that you wrote an article based entirely on lies and hate, and without checking facts. And I’d bet you’d never print a retraction or an apology.
No, there won't be either a "retraction" (correction) or an apology. Now let's do a little fact checking. Robert Krentz was found shot to death on his Cochise County ranch in March 2010 after reporting on a two-way radio seeing an "illegal immigrant." While his killing ginned up much hysteria, SB 1070 was already in the pipeline. While the murder helped rally support for the legislation, it did not cause it to be written. In addition, the last time I checked in on the case, it was not clear whether he was killed by an illegal immigrant or not. The Arizona Daily Star reported that the crime may have been retaliation for his brother reporting drug smuggling. Newsweek also reported the suspect may be an American.
Nothing in SB 1070 addresses drug smuggling. Nor do we own up to the fact that the borderlands are so dangerous as drug-smuggling corridors because of America's appetite for drugs and failed war on drugs. I don't know of a single law-enforcement officer who favors continued criminalization.
We also need to look in the mirror about illegal immigration. It is not about me trying to sneak into Paris (d'avoir un emploi confortable!). It is foremost about our appetite for a cheap, easily exploitable workforce. This constituted one of the key drivers of metro Phoenix's boom from the 1980s on. By the 1990s, it had spread all around the country. This is what happens when a huge, growing, rich nation borders a developing nation. One destabilized by a corrupt government (but one we happily enabled during the Cold War and thereafter), narco lords (see: Appetites, ours), and NAFTA's destruction of local economies leaving too many people without enough jobs.
SB 1070 did nothing to address any of these underlying factors. Its supporters did not even acknowledge them. The "thinking" is that these powerful campesinos put a gun to our head and said, "Pay me below minimum wage to work all day in the sun, make the beds at your resorts, clean your houses and mow your lawns, paying into Social Security money I'll never get back, paying coyotes to get me there, if I survive the desert, working for Anglo overseers who treat me like dirt...or else, gabacho!"
As for crime, it was dropping in Phoenix even as the SB 1070 hysteria was gathering force. Crime along the border and in Phoenix has continued to fall, despite the propaganda of the bill's supporters. Police officers consistently argued against the "show us your papers" law. It has made it more difficult to protect everybody by driving the migrants deeper into the shadows and being fearful of the police acting as immigration officials. Migrants were always more likely to be victims than perpetrators. Crime by white supremacists is a subject needing much more examination.
As for kidnapping, it took years of sifting through questionable PPD reports to find something like the truth. In 2008, before the economy crashed and when the city was being used as a national distribution hub for illegal workers, there were many kidnappings. These were almost always unscrupulous coyotes holding people unless their relatives wired more money norte. (Then Attorney General Terry Goddard's work in addressing the wired-money issue actually did ease this problem, something for which he never received credit). Americans were not being kidnapped in any higher numbers than any comparable city, and Phoenix was certainly not the "kidnapping capital of the world" or "No. 2 after Mexico City," as was widely stated and gullibly reported. The full facts may never be known, so many official asses were being covered after the stats were questioned.
But remember, the same Kooks who were pushing SB 1070 had been cutting funding to law enforcement for years. Similarly, Republicans spent decades destroying and suppressing unions in Arizona, which would have ensured good pay for citizens and documentation that their members were, in fact, citizens. But the allure of a cheap and malleable illegal workforce was too good to resist for "free market, pro-business" types. I wonder how many illegals were/are employed by the Kookocracy's various hustles but the local media are too strapped and timid to sniff out.
I don't discount how much illegal immigration destabilized Phoenix (and I lived in the heart of the city in the 2000s, watching the footprint of poor Latino neighborhoods spread), or the cost in public services. But the experts I interviewed as part of the team that produced the Arizona Republic's exhaustive Dying to Work series said the economic benefits provided by the illegals far outweighed the costs (here's a new report, same conclusion).
Interestingly, SB 1070 has not resulted in the criminal prosecution of any major employers. Do that, and you would have stopped the problem cold. But if illegal immigration has pulled back, it was a secondary aim of the law and was more the result of the housing depression.
Many people have been bamboozled or adopted SB 1070 as a proxy for all the negative changes happening in their lives, from demographic change to losing their incomes to the plutocracy. But it was never primarily about stopping illegal immigration or leading to mass deportations. It was about turning Democrats on the defensive and ensuring continues Kook political dominance. It was about vote suppression, racist profiling and ensuring the Hispanic citizens would become fearful, hopeless, divided and cynical. And it has succeeded brilliantly.
It has also succeeded in not just setting Arizona back, but across space and time — to Bull Conner's Birmingham. But I reprinted the email so you can see how many Arizonans are convinced that SB 1070 has let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. Nothing I write can persuade them otherwise.