Rachel Maddow began her program tonight with a video clip Arizonans are all too familiar with—Gov. Jan Brewer's 16-second meltdown during the 2010 PBS gubernatorial debate. That evening notwithstanding, and it's just one of many Brewer brainfarts, she of course went on to win the election—not because she was the most intelligent or qualified, but because she had endorsed Sen. Russell Pearce's "papers please" bill. Had Brewer not embraced SB 1070 during that summer of tea party rage, it's likely she would not have won her party's nomination, let alone the election.
This was Rachel's concern tonight: If the commission mentioned in today's agreement has veto power, if they must declare the border secure before other measures in the plan can take place, then kiss reform goodbye, because in Jan Brewer's alleged mind the region will never be "secure." As long as there's even one Mexican sneaking over or under the fence, as long as there's even one rancher complaining about immigrants tramping over his land, then Gov. Brewer will not declare the border secure. Especially if there's a Democrat in the White House.
Case in point: Right now immigration in the Tucson sector is at a 40-year low. In fact, it's at net-zero, maybe lower. Similarly, crime along the border is lower than in some other parts of Arizona, like Sheriff Joe Arpaio's county. One reason for these results is that President Obama doubled the number of border agents since George Bush. Yet you rarely heard Arizona Republicans clamoring "secure the border" when Bush was in the White House, and when immigration was far higher.
So, immigration is down and crime is down. But take a look at Jan "Headless Bodies" Brewer's recent fundraising letter. This was just last week—she's still fearmongering, exploiting a problem that does not exist:
I have worked to pass immigration legislation such as SB 1070 in response to the federal government's failure to respond. I will not back down until President Obama and Congress do their jobs and address this issue.In Brewer's zany world, the federal government is not "do[ing] its job," even though immigration is essentially at zilch and parts of the region resemble a military zone. And there shouldn't be any talk of immigration "reform" until the border is secure. Except it pretty much is. That tells us what Gov. Brewer's role will be as a member of this commission. Well, we don't have to wait for that, she said it today, in the wake of the bipartisan plan announced this morning:
Arizona and its citizens deserve a federal government that devotes its time and attention to issues that the people deem important. Please help us demand that the federal government commit to a secure border FIRST before addressing immigration reform. Please donate $10 now toward assuring that our nation has a secure border!
"I have been in contact with Senator McCain regarding the now released immigration reform ideas presented by his working group of Senators. I am pleased that there is expressed recognition of what we have been saying in Arizona: immigration reform will not succeed unless and until we have achieved effective border security...In other words, even though there's essentially no immigration problem, she's going to keep using the invisible problem as a dog whistle in fundraising letters and stump speeches. And to satisfy her nativist base, she will never declare the border secure enough to approve any steps toward further reform. Because it's really not about the border, it's about harassing brown people.
Our nation cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past by pursuing immigration reform before tangible and effective border security, particularly in the Tucson Sector, is completed."