SB 1070, the regressive ethnic cleansing law in Arizona, received a huge boost after supporters claimed a beloved rancher on the Arizona-Mexico border had been shot dead by undocumented immigrants.

The truth, however, might be a bit different.

The killing of a Southern Arizona rancher that sparked an outcry to secure the border was not random, and investigators are focusing on an American suspect, the Arizona Daily Star has learned.

High-ranking government officials with credible information spoke to the Star, citing a desire to quell the fury over illegal immigration and drug smuggling set off by the shooting death of longtime rancher Robert Krentz on March 27.

They said Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever is investigating a person in the United States, not in Mexico, in connection with the shooting.

Krentz was known as a kind soul who helped immigrants crossing through his property. He wasn't a hateful xenophobe. But even if his murderer turned out to be Mexican, the circumstances of the case still suggest it was a drug hit -- which would still have little bearing on the immigration debate.

The drug smuggler infestation (whether white or brown) at the border is at true crisis levels. But the drug issue has nothing to do with the immigration issue. Drug runners aren't crossing the border looking to get jobs mowing lawns, and demanding to see immigration papers at a Tucson bus stop won't make a dent in the drug cartels.

Those same gangsters don't just endanger Americans living near the border, but also prey on poor immigrants trying to cross, murdering, raping, and stealing from the destitute seeking only a better life for themselves, and willing to work for next-to-nothing to guarantee Americans can still enjoy cheap food and services. Problem is, SB 1070 does nothing to deal with the violent drug smuggling at the border.

There are two broken policies here -- the immigration system, which desperately needs reform, and the drug war, which is costing people their lives and essentially turning Mexico into a narco state in order to irrationally keep people from smoking freakin' weed.

But conservative ideologues were more interested in bending reality to suit their agenda, and rather than focus on the failed drug war, which cost this good Samaritan rancher his life, his tragic death was used to justify the worst xenophobic sentiments.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon May 03, 2010 at 12:46 PM PDT.

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