Navarrette Jr: Drug Cartels Boogey Man in Arizona Law

Syndicated Columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. has a column up at on Sb1070 HERE.

Navarrette Jr. does an excellent job of separating drug violence on the border and illegal immigration.

Governor Jan Brewer and those that support SB1070 have joined these two issues as a reason to pass tough state laws against illegal immigration.

Navarrette Jr. is skeptical of the veracity of this argument:

The new bogeyman of the immigration debate is the Mexican drug cartels. In fact, when you engage a supporter of SB 1070, it's hard to get them to talk about anything else. The cartels are their strong card; why not play it?

One of the arguments floating about -- advanced by Brewer -- is that most illegal immigrants act as drug mules for the cartels.

Too bad Brewer can't seem to find anyone to back that up. Arizona Sen. John McCain said he doesn't believe that most illegal immigrants are used as drug mules. Neither does T.J. Bonner, head of the National Border Patrol Council, the labor union representing nearly 20,000 border patrol agents. Bonner said Brewer's claims are "clearly not the case" and "don't comport with reality."

What is really at work here is Politicians taking advantage of public perception to score cheap political points in an election season. By creating a boogey man out of immigrants and drug dealers, politicians in Arizona are able to rally their base around an issue, that has been grossly over exaggerated.

Jay Heiler, a political strategist and counsel to Gov. Brewer, admits as much in an conversation with Navarrette Jr.:

Heiler is too smart to repeat wild claims. Instead, he stayed focused on public perception. He submits that most of the support for the measure --- polls show that about 55 percent of Arizonans back the law, down from 70 percent when Brewer signed it in April -- is coming from people who are sincerely afraid that Mexico is spinning out of control because of the drug war and that the chaos is spilling into Arizona in the form of kidnappings and other lawlessness.

Yet this perception is wildly out of touch with reality, there have been kidnappings, but they are not of American citizens, rather they are a part of the human smuggling of immigrants into the country:

According to law enforcement authorities, in 2008, nearly 400 kidnappings happened in Phoenix. But a prosecutor told me that most people don't understand that many of these "kidnappings" aren't for ransom. Rather, they're an extension of the human smuggling industry, in which rival coyotes raid each other's "drop houses" and steal the cargo. That's a serious crime, and yet it's probably not what most people think about when they hear the word "kidnapping."

In fact for American citizen's in Arizona, CRIME IS DOWN:

In the first quarter of 2010, violent crime was down 17 percent in the city, while homicides were down 38 percent and robberies 27 percent, compared with the same time period in 2009.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation also confirms it. The number of violent crimes has fallen every year in Phoenix since 2006, the FBI reports. It's part of an overall trend in which, according to the bureau, crime rates are actually going down in cities that have large immigrant populations

Lets hope in the future, politicians in Arizona pay more attention to the facts, and not the whims of their re-election campaigns.