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Violent crime in Arizona is down significantly, so why are Arizona politicians falling over themselves to hype up their state’s immigrant-fueled crime wave? Because it gets them elected says Alejandro Ch�vez, campaign manager and grandson of C�sar Ch�vez. The campaigns have even gone to lying about statistics and proposals of a series of anti-immigrant laws.

Produced by Jesse Freeston from Phoenix, Arizona.

Story Transcript

JESSE FREESTON, PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jesse Freeston in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s been a few days since some parts of the controversial anti-immigration bill SB 1070 have been put on hold temporarily, but the fear that gave rise to that bill is still very much in play here.

DEMONSTRATOR: Home of the brave! Not the home of illegals!

FREESTON: Rage against undocumented immigrants is visible on the streets of Arizona. But instead of helping temper it, the state’s most visible politicians are adding fuel to the fire.

JAN BREWER, GOVERNOR OF ARIZONA (R): The bottom line is is until we get our border secured, there’s not going to be any peace or rest for any citizen in Arizona or America. We are the gateway, Brahm, for everything that is bad that is coming across that border.

FREESTON: Governor Jan Brewer has been at the front of this campaign to connect undocumented immigration with violent crime, this despite the fact that violent crime in Arizona has gone down by 23 percent over that last decade. Over that same decade, undocumented immigration to the state doubled. But Brewer has not been alone.

STATE SEN. RUSSELL PEARCE (R-AZ), AUTHOR OF SB 1070: Things are as bad or worse on that border than they’ve ever been. You know, what’s coming across that border today are people that couldn’t come into this country legally. They’re drug smugglers, human smugglers, gang members, child molesters. It is out of control.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): It’s the people whose homes and property are being violated. It’s the drive-by�the drivers of cars that have illegals in it that are potentially causing accidents on the freeway.

J. D. HAYWORTH (R-AZ), CHALLENGER FOR MCCAIN’S SENATE SEAT: Crime is on the increase. Arizonans have had enough. And, interestingly, a majority of Hispanics agree that this law should be enforced here in Arizona.

FREESTON: All the polls show Hispanic respondents opposing the bill at roughly 70 percent. But outright lies like this have simply become part of the game.


BREWER: Law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert, either buried or just lying out there, that have been beheaded.

BRAHM RESNICK, HOST, SUNDAY SQUARE-OFF (NBC-PHOENIX): What we hear from politicians in the course of this debate on national news is a picture of Arizona that seems to be far from what many folks experience. I could not find any beheadings in any kind of news search in Arizona.


FREESTON: According to The Arizona Guardian, headless bodies have been found in Mexico, but never in Arizona. Brewer has also said that the majority of undocumented immigrants were not workers but drug offenders. Meanwhile, the Tucson border patrol reports that of the more than 170,000 people they have apprehended this year, less than 1 percent have been charged with drug offenses. Russell Pearce, the state senator who first tabled SB 1070, has also displayed certain problems with the truth.

PEARCE: Do you know that 60 percent of the homicides in Phoenix involved illegal aliens?

FREESTON: Neither the FBI nor the Phoenix Police Department keep such statistics.

PEARCE: Do you know there’s a congressional report that shows 9,000 Americans killed every year at the hands of illegal aliens?

FREESTON: This statistic is widely attributed to Iowa Representative Steve King, who referenced a 2005 GAO [Government Accountability Office] report that has no mention of such statistics. Along with the lies have come a flurry of anti-immigrant law proposals by those campaigning in the November elections. The frenzy has reached all the way to the race for the utilities commission, where candidate Barry Wong has pledged to shut off people’s utilities if they don’t have documents.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST, ON THE RECORD (FOX NEWS): �and I must tell you, I think your idea�I hate it, and I think it’s mean and cruel.

FREESTON: State Sen. Pearce has reinvigorated his proposal of two years ago to stop giving birth certificates to children born to undocumented parents, a proposal that Sen. John McCain is now taking up at the national level. Critics say it’s a violation of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to people born in the United States. North Phoenix Tea Party founder Wes Harris disagrees.

WESLEY HARRIS, FOUNDER, NORTH PHOENIX TEA PARTY: By definition, [if] you come across the border illegally, you are a citizen of whatever country you came from. You have come into this country illegally, and therefore you have no legal status. There is a misunderstanding of the 14th Amendment on birthright. It says that the individual has to be under the jurisdiction of the United States. To be under the jurisdiction, to be illegal is diametrically opposed. If you are illegal, you have no legal status other than human rights. That’s it. You can’t vote, you can’t work, you can’t do anything in this country unless you are legal. And anything you do is then illegal, and therefore you are outside the law and therefore outside the jurisdiction of the United States.

FREESTON: This interpretation would require overturning the 1898 Supreme Court case US v. Wong Kim Ark. The case was heard after the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act banned all Chinese from migrating to the US. At that time, the gold rush that had provided work opportunities was coming to a close and Chinese migrants were being blamed for the high unemployment in states like California. Wong, despite being born in the US, was blocked from returning to the country after a trip to China to see his family. The landmark Supreme Court decision upheld Wong’s US citizenship and set the precedent that those born in the US are citizens by birth, with exceptions for children of diplomats and foreign soldiers.

ALEJANDRO CH�VEZ, MANAGER, RUBEN GALLEGO CAMPAIGN: In Arizona, being anti-immigrant is a popular thing that will help you get elected. And that’s what’s driving the force behind these laws, legislations that are being passed, the ability to get elected.

FREESTON: Alejandro Ch�vez is the campaign manager for Arizona House candidate Ruben Gallego.

CH�VEZ: And it’s unfortunate, because people are the ones that will suffer, not the politician. The politician who’s anti-immigrant will be rewarded for stepping and crushing on not just immigrants but on people, on human rights.

FREESTON: Ch�vez is the grandson of C�sar Ch�vez, cofounder of the United Farm Workers. Thanks to another recent Arizona bill, Ch�vez’s grandfather’s history could become another victim of the current climate. The law, recently signed by Governor Brewer, bans any class that is designed for students of a particular ethnic group. The law’s champion, Superintendent Tom Horne, says it is specifically directed at Tucson school boards’ Mexican-American studies program. Horne is currently running for Arizona attorney general.

TOM HORNE CAMPAIGN ADVERTISEMENT (VOICEOVER): Tom Horne had the guts to take on the Liberals to stop bilingual education and end ethnic studies. As attorney general, he’ll defend our borders and fight illegal immigration. Paid for by Tom Horne for Attorney General.

CH�VEZ: Well, the truth is that that’s just another ploy by another politician to get elected. Tom Horne is superintendent of public instruction. He wants to be attorney general. He knows that if he bans ethnic studies, that it’ll be popular and that he’ll get elected.

FREESTON: As the 2010 elections approach in November, this campaign of fear is showing little sign of letting up. In the next segment, we look at some of the other consequences this fear of immigrants is having in Arizona.

End of Transcript

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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