Getting the Facts Right in Green Valley

Do we want to be Fortress Green Valley?
By Roger Kleckner
Green Valley News, Arizona
Sunday, April 27, 2008

During the past few months, people have been bombarded with information on illegal immigration. The result has been to raise enough fear and paranoia that many want this community to become Fortress Green Valley; fending off the bloodthirsty, disease-ridden hordes crossing our borders.

Yet, when I check the facts presented, I find most of them to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors, hot air and distortions.

An example is the reported 7000 new cases of leprosy in the last three years. According to a March 2008 report from the Centers for Disease Control listing reported cases of diseases from 1975 to 2006, there were only 258 reported new cases of leprosy from 2004 through 2006 with the number dropping each year. From 1985 (highest) till 2006 (lowest), the decline was 82 percent.

Also mentioned was the threat of hepatitis. From the same report, the combined number of reported cases (1975-2006) of Hepatitis A and B declined 83 percent, with 2006 having the lowest. A CDC fact sheet states that the number of new cases of Hepatitis C has declined from around 240,000 in the 1980s to 19,000 in 2006.

We were told that polio is back and increasing. According to the same report, there was just one reported case of polio from 2000 to 2006; that in 2005.

We have been told that last year, illegal immigrants killed five of seven police officers in Phoenix. Interesting, since the Officer Down Memorial Page and Phoenix Police Museum Web sites list only three officers killed in 2007 in Phoenix and a 30- mile radius around Phoenix. Only one dealt with illegal immigrants.

A local Minutemen told me that the last five Border Patrol agents were killed by illegal immigrants.

According to the official Border Patrol Web site; of the last eight agents killed, five were in single car accidents, one drowned trying to save his canine partner, one had a heart attack related to the heat as he was tracking (not chasing) migrants and one was hit by a suspected smuggler. There were also three air interdiction agents killed; one in an airport training accident, one in a helicopter crash while chasing migrants, and one in a plane crash while supporting BP agents. Thus, only one of the 11 agents was directly killed by an illegal immigrant; a suspected drug smuggler, not someone looking for a job.

I was told that immigrants are sending from $8 billion to $10 billion a year to Mexico, an economic drain. Yet, the according to the U.S. Census Web site, the trade deficit with China was $256 billion. Scared about overseas loss of U.S. dollars? The seeping to Mexico is nothing compared to the flood to China.

We were also reminded about the four kids killed in Minnesota by an illegal immigrant. The impression is that they were shot, stabbed or drowned. In reality, a van ran a stop sign and crashed into a bus. A very tragic accident but not premeditated murder by a deranged migrant. Every day, Americans break traffic laws and tragically people die.

All of the examples above, and there are more, are meant to frighten you; to make you scared enough to ratify ideas without rationally thinking.

There is no question that we have an immigration problem in this country. It is not a simple problem but a complex issue involving a criminal element and a larger economic, work-related element. Even the local Minutemen state that the drug element is only 20 percent of the illegal crossers.

The problem cannot be solved by running around like Chicken Little, yelling the sky is falling while blowing smoke and waving mirrors to instill fear and paranoia. Shouting simplistic slogans and mocking people who don’t think exactly as you do is part of the problem; not the solution. Neither is waving the flag and telling people that if you love this country you have to do this or do that.

A long-term solution will take a calm discussion using facts, logic, thoughtful reasoning, compassion and realistic expectations. It will mean respecting people who don’t think exactly as you. Yet in my opinion this is the only way and the true American Way.

Roger Kleckner is a retired educator, a six-month resident of Green Valley, a registered Republican and a member of the Green Valley Samaritans.

1. Roger Kleckner. "Do we want to be Fortress Green Valley?" Green Valley News, April 27, 2008

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