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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Rhetoric on immigration does nothing but scare

Andrew Shepherd

According to some politicians and pundits, our state has fallen victim to an inept federal government that allows violence to run wild and immigrants to easily cross our lawless borders. Whether it’s an ad for John McCain claiming that President Obama makes “”securing the border incredibly difficult””, or Gov. Jan Brewer’s tales of beheadings in the desert, it would appear we’re in the midst of a bloody war nobody wants to do anything about. These claims, however, are baseless and only further polarize the political landscape, making any real, meaningful reform almost impossible to achieve.

While drug violence does threaten the stability of parts of Mexico, Arizonans really don’t have much to fear. In a recent interview with The Arizona Republic, Roy Bermudez, the assistant police chief of Nogales, Ariz., said he has seen no spillover from Mexico’s drug wars and declares his city to be “”one of the safest places to live in all of America.”” Not to mention the fact that crime rates across the border have largely stayed the same over the past decade, despite the heavy violence to the south. As a border state, Arizona feels the effects of illegal immigration more than the rest of the country, but to claim it’s more dangerous is a bit of an exaggeration.

The most asinine statements are those claiming that the federal government chooses to do nothing. Clearly, the people making those statements haven’t been to the borderlands recently, for Border Patrol vehicles are almost as prevalent as saguaro cacti and checkpoints make it impossible to use any of the roads coming from Mexico without being stopped. Should the drug violence spill into Arizona, there would be a massive amount of law enforcement waiting for them. All one has to do is drive 40 minutes south to see the vast resources the feds have put in our state.

Of course, to those on the far right, this is hardly enough. To them it seems that only a full militarization of the border would solve our current “”crisis.”” This viewpoint poses the biggest problem of all. How can any compromise occur when one side truly believes they are in danger and feel that only a large influx of police or military efforts can protect them? By pandering to their party’s most extreme, Republicans have alienated those in the middle who would like to see comprehensive reform, but not at the expense of making the border a fully militarized zone. 

Does immigration reform need to happen? Yes. Illegal immigration is unfair to those who have waited in line for the chance to move here legally. Treating the issue as if it’s life or death, or threatens the very stability of our state, does nothing to solve the problem. In fact, by pandering to the fringes of their party and claiming that anything other than mass deportation is “”amnesty,”” Republican politicians have made it impossible to work toward any policy involving moderate approaches such as a guest worker program or an eventual path to citizenship.

There’s no doubt that more could be done to stop the flow of human smuggling and slow down the drug trade, but simple scare tactics are not the answer. It takes more than just calling for a surge in troops or arresting suspected illegal immigrants on the streets of Tucson and Phoenix. It takes a leader who can sit down and figure out how to realistically deal with the millions of undocumented immigrants in this country and the well-financed, highly sophisticated smuggling syndicates operating in the desert at this very moment. While scare tactics may drive poll numbers up, they drive the chance of achieving any comprehensive reform way down.

 

— Andrew Shepherd is a political science senior. He can be reached

at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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