Scorpions: NOT the breakfast of champions

Based upon everything I’ve read about Governor Jan Brewer’s book tour, I’m inclined to believe she’s had one too many scorpions for breakfast. Perhaps it’s time to inject a bit of antivenom into the poisonous remarks that have filled the airwaves.

In an interview with, Governor Brewer spoke about the cost of illegal immigration, claiming it amounts to 19% of the state’s budget. That’s a startling (and outrageous) statistic. One-fifth of our budget is spent on illegal immigration?

Where did the Governor come up with this number? We may never know because she failed to attribute the statistic, and the reporter failed to question it.

The fact is the exact cost of illegal immigration is unknown. Some groups, such as the Immigration Policy Center, point to studies that show a net gain from illegal immigration when taking into account the economic impact from additional workers, many whom pay taxes and spend money on goods and services.

Others, such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), point to huge losses by including the costs to educate American children born to undocumented workers. This is an all-too-common tactic used by some groups to distort statistics and propagate myths.

Once we accept those types of false statistics, the debasing of an entire group of citizens becomes easier and somehow acceptable. How many times have we heard the slur “anchor babies” when referring to first-generation Americans?

Governor Brewer goes one step further, expanding on that type of negative and destructive PR by writing, “multiculturalism and open borders philosophy go hand in hand.” On its face, that statement is ridiculous at best, racist at worst. Isn’t multiculturalism what America is all about? From Oktoberfest to St. Patrick’s Day parades, we have a history of embracing and celebrating our diverse heritages.

I won’t pretend to know what’s in Ms. Brewer’s heart, but she should choose her words more carefully. Inflammatory statements like those do harm to all citizens by turning the immigration debate from a debate on policy to a debate on race. For a Governor that insists her immigration views aren’t molded around race, she certainly makes a case to question her ideology.

Unfortunately, Ms. Brewer’s extreme remarks don’t end there. She goes on to say that President Obama has not secured the border because it will “help them have voters out there come the election.”

While that statement may cause some to view the Governor as tough, I’m more inclined to see it as a sign of divisiveness. Is Governor Brewer really unaware that undocumented workers are unable to vote in elections, or is this yet another tool to promote oneself and party by creating a wedge issue? My bet is on the latter.

I, too, have been disappointed with the Obama administration’s inability to move the immigration debate forward and work toward real reform. But to say the administration has done “nothing to work with us to secure the border” is just plain false. If anything, the President has concentrated on security to the detriment of real reform. He has spent more money on the border, employed more border patrol officers and deported more undocumented workers than any of his predecessors. Those three things alone make Governor Brewer’s statement utterly ridiculous.

But let’s be real, Governor Brewer’s book isn’t meant to be a serious take on the immigration debate. The subtitle alone, My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America’s Border, reveals the true intent of the book is PR.

Where was Governor Brewer’s fight against special interests when the private prison industry, a group that stood to benefit immensely from SB1070, helped craft and lobby for the bill? And how does the Governor define “liberal media?” Is that code for news outlets that question statistics and insist on factual reporting? When speaking of “cynical politicos,” we should include Governor Brewer who has been anything but a beacon of hope in the face of a polarizing debate.

The Governor’s book is a success in that it serves as a stinging review of our political landscape, one that is marred with self-serving interests at the expense of solutions.

With that in mind, I think I’ll save the scorpions for the lizards and feast on Wheaties instead.


  1. Todd Landfried

    Brewer gets the 19% figure from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). They first published it in 2004, which uses data from a 1994 Urban Institute study and a 2010 “Cost of Illegal Immigration” report. Like most of what FAIR publishes, the data are estimates based on estimates based on projections from third parties. The reports are highly subjective, long on assumptions and even more questionable in conclusion. In short, there are much better studies from several universities she could refer to than these from one single source.

  2. Daniel Basham

    I found it interesting as I was reading this blog, they had your interview on tv. I’m not a “BLOG” reader but did find this interesting.

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