Got A Problem? Blame It On Illegal Immigrants

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she / With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" | Or, you know, don't.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/12614773@N07/2617630055/sizes/z/in/photostream/">jordi.martorell</a>/Flickr

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) took some heat this weekend for blaming wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico on illegal immigrants. McCain has since recanted (sort of), claiming that he was merely repeating what an unnamed Forest Service official told him in a briefing.

McCain’s comments are just the latest example of our country’s habit of blaming all manner of problems on immigrants. Let’s take a look at a few recent instances of illegal immigrants becoming scapegoats for… well, you name it:

  • Car Accidents: Thank Arizona’s senior senator for this one, too. McCain told Bill O’Reilly (who else?) that Arizona’s highways were plagued by illegal immigrants who intentionally crash into other drivers. No word on how doing so could possibly be to their benefit.
  • Swine Flu: Remember this? While everyone was running around buying face masks and speculating on Swine Flu’s origin, CNN’s Jack Cafferty suggested that illegal immigrants—not just anyone traveling from Mexico—might be at fault.
  • The Mortgage Crisis: Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin argued that banks specifically targeted illegal immigrants for shady home loans, and when they couldn’t pay up… well, you know what happened.
  • America’s Drug Problem: The majority of illegal immigrants coming from Mexico are “drug mules,” according to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.
  • Litter: Some officials think border crossers need to brush up on their “Leave No Trace” etiquette.
  • California’s Budget Deficit: Forget about mismanagement and overspending: some argue that California ran out of money because of illegal immigrants, who used services like hospitals and schools without paying for them. (Actually, many undocumented immigrants pay taxes.) Immigrants had a friend in the Governator, though, who said they were an “easy scapegoat” and not the real source of the problem.
  • Bad Traffic: The American Immigration Control Foundation ran ads accusing immigrants (illegal and otherwise) of worsening gridlock and pushing urban sprawl
  • Various Episodes of Violence: Something scary happened in your neighborhood and you can’t find the criminal? No problem! It was probably illegal immigrants (this rule applies internationally, too).

Immigrants must be exhausted after leaving their foreclosed homes in pot-laden cars, crashing in standstill traffic on their way to the ER, hacking and wheezing, and then tossing their used Kleenex out the window!

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.