The prize for the biggest political lie of 2009 went to Sarah Palin, the darling of the American right, for injecting fictitious “death panels” into the health reform debate. This year, fact-benders are hard at work to control the debate on another controversial topic, immigration. Competition is intense.
It comes from opponents of immigration reforms that would simultaneously offer better control of the 2,000-mile U.S-Mexico border, a new visa system, and a path to legal status for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, the majority Mexicans, who are already in the country. The official term for this is “comprehensive immigration reform.”
But influential politicians insist there must be no reform before the border is entry-proof to illegals, and they portray the frontier as a virtual war zone, on both sides of the line.
There is Arizona’s governor, Jan Brewer, who is talking about the discovery of decapitated bodies on the American side of the border. There is Senator John McCain, who has said violence along the border is the worst he has ever seen. There is a letter 12 members of congress (10 Republicans, two Democrats) wrote to President Barack Obama saying border violence is increasing “at an alarming pace.”
None of this stands up to factual scrutiny though perhaps none of it is quite at the toxic level of the claim Palin put on her Facebook page last year — that the government’s proposed health care reforms included setting up panels that would decide whether elderly or disabled Americans were worthy of continued health care or should be let to die.