From THINK PROGRESS:
Arizona politicians who support the state’s new immigration law have spent the past few months justifying the passage of SB-1070 by pointing to the high levels of crime that undocumented immigrants have brought to their state. However, over the past few weeks, the media has countered their claims of kidnappings and beheadings with reports that the border is “safer than ever” and “one of America’s safest places.” Today, when pressed by guest anchor Harry Smith on CBS’ Face the Nation, SB-1070 supporter Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) called the reports a “gross generalization”:
SMITH: One of the things that’s come to light over the past last couple weeks is that in some of these border towns that were thought to be susceptible to lawbreaking of illegal immigrants. Crime is actually down. Crime in Phoenix for instance is down significantly over the past couple of years.
KYL: Well, that’s a gross generalization. Property crimes are up, certain violent crimes on certain parts of the citizenry are up. Phoenix is a very large source of kidnapping. It’s called the kidnapping capital of the United States…So there’s a great deal of violence and crime associated with illegal immigrants.
Far from being a “gross generalization,” as undocumented immigration has increased, crime in Arizona has dropped in almost every category — including property crime. FBI statistics show that Arizona’s overall crime rate dropped 12 percent last year and 23 percent between 2004 and 2008. More specifically, Media Matters reports that the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that the per capita property crime rate in Arizona was lower in 2006, 2007, and 2008 than any year since 1968.
According to Politifact, though the number of kidnappings that have occurred in Phoenix since 2008 have been specified, no one has said how many kidnappings were reported in other cities. Neither the FBI nor the U.S. National Central Bureau of Interpol could confirm the claim.
In his interview, Kyl also claimed Judge Susan Bolton’s decision to block the most significant provisions of SB-1070 from taking effect this past week was “wrong,” despite the fact that Bolton was nominated to the bench following his recommendation and praise.
(Video at THINK PROGRESS link)
From The Arizona Guardian (June 30, 2010):
Appearing on a local television show Sunday morning, Gov. Jan Brewer described how bad Arizona’s illegal immigration problem has gotten.
“Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert either buried or just lying out there that have been beheaded,” she said.
But officials with six county medical examiners offices in the state, including four from counties that border Mexico, say they have never heard of such attacks.
The Arizona Guardian contacted the coroners’ offices in Yuma, Pima, Pinal, Maricopa, Santa Cruz and Cochise counties. All of them said they’d never investigated an immigration-related crime in which someone’s head had been head cut off within their respective jurisdictions.
In recent weeks the media and the governor’s political opponents have criticized her for some of her claims about illegal immigration.
Brewer had said 87 percent of illegal border crossers had prior criminal records. Federal immigration authorities were unable to confirm the statistic and Brewer’s administration could not cite where they got the number.
Last week, the governor, said a majority of all immigrants coming into the country illegally worked as drug couriers for Mexican crime syndicates. The statement was roundly rejected and her comments quickly spread throughout the country.
Brewer appeared on Channel 12’s “Sunday Square Off” last weekend. During the show, Brewer said people in Arizona were living in fear. She said that in some cases parents were scared to send their children to school.
Toward the end of the show, Brewer was asked about her earlier claims that people were being beheaded. Brewer stood by her statements and said “our law enforcement” agencies had said they were finding decapitated bodies in the desert.
When asked by the Guardian on Tuesday which law enforcement agencies told the governor about the beheadings, Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman said he didn’t know.
Sunday’s statements by the governor were not the first time she’s conjured up the image of beheadings when talking about illegal immigration.
Earlier this month, the governor was talking about immigration on the Fox News program “On the Record” with Greta Van Susteren, one of several appearances she’s made on the show in recent weeks.
Van Susteren came to Arizona to interview the governor. She asked Brewer about the state’s new immigration law, SB 1070, and the controversy surrounding it.
Brewer said most of the state and the country back the bill and “it’s another tool for us to be able to use in order to get our borders under control.”
“We cannot afford all this illegal immigration and everything that comes with it, everything from the crime and the drugs and the kidnappings and the extortion and the beheadings and the fact that people can’t feel safe in their community,” she said on the show, which aired June 17. “It’s wrong! It’s wrong!”
From THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC:
In May, Arizona Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain wrote an open letter to President Barack Obama. “Many Arizonans do not feel safe within their own homes or on their own property,” the letter said. “They feel that they live in a lawless area of the country and have been abandoned by the federal government.”
Other members of Congress, including Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and John Shadegg, R-Ariz., sent Obama a letter asking that National Guard soldiers be sent to the border because “violence in the vicinity of the U.S. Mexico border continues to increase at an alarming rate.”
Two weeks before the state House of Representatives passed the bill, a rancher was found dead on his southern Arizona property, and authorities said they found tracks leading toward the border.
Everywhere, it seemed, border violence, or the specter of it, was raising its head.
In June, Brewer, speaking to a national audience on Fox News, said that Arizona “cannot afford all this illegal immigration and everything that comes with it, everything from the crime and to the drugs and the kidnappings and the extortion and the beheadings.”
Some of the violence loomed larger in debate than in reality.
FBI Uniform Crime Reports and statistics provided by police agencies, in fact, show that the crime rates in Nogales, Douglas, Yuma and other Arizona border towns have remained essentially flat for the past decade, even as drug-related violence has spiraled out of control on the other side of the international line.
Statewide, rates of violent crime also are down.
Still, the rancher, Robert Krentz, was killed, even if a connection to an illegal border crossing has not yet been proved.