Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has resorted to lying about immigration.
She has made public claims that a majority of undocumented immigrants are drug mules and we know this is simply not true. It has no basis in fact and only serves to inflame the immigration debate.
"Well, we all know that the majority of the people that are coming to Arizona and trespassing are now becoming drug mules," Brewer said, according to a story on CNN. "They're coming across our borders in huge numbers. The drug cartels have taken control of the immigration."
This was such an exaggeration that the labor union representing the nearly 20,000 border patrol agents called her on it.
T.J. Bonner of the National Border Patrol Council told CNN that Brewer's comments don't "comport with reality -- that's the nicest way to put it."
Brewer later backed off slightly from those comments but she still has a distorted view of the immigration issue.
Fortunately in Illinois most of our politicians and law enforcement officials don't exploit the issue. On Friday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart and Kane County Sheriff Patrick Perez joined with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights to call for immigration reform.
They also explained that when local law enforcement act as immigration officials it complicates their ability to solve crimes. People who are witnesses to or victims of crimes are not likely to assist police if they are undocumented.
"It is very difficult for any woman to come forward if she is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, and that is especially true if a woman is a member of the immigrant community," Attorney General Madigan said in a statement. "Those of us who are concerned about living in safe communities and protecting the victims of crime know that we must address these issues through reform."
And this week in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch and other business and political leaders formed a coalition in favor of immigration reform.
It's completely ironic that the head of FOX News supports a plan that would legalize the undocumented. He could start by telling his network to play the issue more fairly.
Any congressional plan should include provisions to keep the border secure and also create a pathway to legalize many of the undocumented in this country who are law-abiding and hard-working.
We need a reasonable approach not the kind of hysterics promoted by Arizona's Brewer. Before she cries about chaos at the border she should consider some facts reported in a recent story by Suzanne Gamboa of the Associated Press.
The number of Border Patrol agents has doubled to more than 20,000 since 2003, with most of those agents stationed at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Border Patrol's budget has grown from $1 billion in the 2000 fiscal year to a requested $3.58 billion for 2011, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The U.S. has erected about 510 miles of fences and vehicle barriers on the nearly 2,000-mile southern border since 2006, adding to about 137 existing miles of fences and barriers built in previous years.
Americans returning from Mexico and Canada now must show passports to cross the border and enter the U.S., under rules that took effect last summer.
Much has been done to secure the border already. Crime rates also are down along the U.S. side of the border, according to a report by the L.A. Times.
I wish that politicians like Gov. Jan Brewer would check the facts before she blindly blames undocumented immigrants for the drug problem. We know that most undocumented immigrants come here to work and they are law-abiding.
To paint them all as drug mules is simply shameful.