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Arizona Asks for “Expedited Appeal,” but Facts Don’t Warrant Emergency Consideration

July 30, 2010 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

Arizona border


On July 29, Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for an expedited hearing to overturn Wednesday's ruling by District Court Judge Susan Bolton that put on hold the most controversial parts of Arizona's "show me your papers" law.


The motion filed by Arizona claims an expedited schedule is warranted "to address the irreparable harm Arizona is suffering as a result of unchecked unlawful immigration." 


"Good cause exists to expedite this appeal … because it is an appeal of a preliminary injunction enjoining several key provisions of SB 1070 that the Arizona Legislature determined were critical to address serious criminal, environmental, and economic problems Arizona has been suffering as a consequence of illegal immigration and the lack of effective enforcement activity by the federal government."


An article in Time on July 30 was the latest to question the hysteria being promoted by Arizona's politicians about illegal immigration in Arizona and along the southwest border in general.  


"Consider Arizona itself — whose illegal-immigrant population is believed to be second only to California's. The state's overall crime rate dropped 12% last year; between 2004 and 2008 it plunged 23%. In the metro area of its largest city, Phoenix, violent crime — encompassing murder, rape, assault and robbery — fell by a third during the past decade and by 17% last year. The border city of Nogales, an area rife with illegal immigration and drug trafficking, hasn't logged a single murder in the past two years."


There is an exception to these favorable statistics on Arizona crime: In the area policed by the Maricopa County Sheriff's office, there was a 58% increase in violent crime in a period (2002 to 2009) during which the violent crime rate in the state as a whole dropped 12%, according to this analysis by America's Voice.  Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who heads the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, is notorious for rounding up "illegal immigrants."  With the state's politicians whipping Arizona citizens into a frenzy about illegal immigration, Sheriff Arpaio's roundups have gotten him a lot of publicity.  Judging by the crime statistics, Sheriff Arpaio and his crew have had little time to pursue actual criminals.


As for the border itself, the Time story notes that "state and local police are backed along the border by the thousands of federal agents deployed there," and despite problems on the Mexican side of the border, "the U.S. side, from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas, is one of the nation's safest corridors."


The Arizona law, the article concludes, "was sparked largely by unfounded fears."


So, what's the emergency?  The Time story quotes El Paso city councilman Beto O'Rourke, giving a hint of what is behind all the noise.


"You've got a lot of politicians exploiting this fear that the Mexicans are coming over to kill us."


As for Brewer, signing SB 1070 was "a stroke of political genius," according to the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza. She had been in a tough primary fight for re-election against two immigration hard-liner opponents. Since signing the law, "both of her primary challengers dropped from the race and she is now considered a clear favorite against state Attorney General Terry Goddard (D)."


Image by Flickr user jonathan mcintosh.

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